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Measures and Programmes








Security is a precondition for meaningful safety and development. This is explicitly recognized by the international community in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. There are many ways to encourage security in societies affected by armed violence. In some cases, governments may invest in enhancing security through reforms to their armed forces, police forces, and justice systems. Around the world, communities are involved in ensuring their own security, through local initiatives like neighbourhood watch groups or local militias. The promotion of security thus includes a host of military, peacekeeping, policing, justice, and penal activities intended to restore real and perceived safety. 

The Security Assessment in North Africa focuses primarily on two dimensions of improving community safety. First, the project identifies issues related to effective weapons and ammunition stockpile security. Second, the project addresses security sector reforms, particularly the security sector’s transition from having a primarily repressive function to effectively providing community safety. The project monitors government and international efforts aimed at reconstructing and rehabilitating security institutions and their management of weapons and ammunition stockpiles.

Thus far, our findings and work include:

  • ‘Hybrid’ security institutions are emerging and assuming responsibility for security and security-related tasks in some areas of North Africa. These institutions blend formal and informal elements in a structure that may have greater legitimacy than the institutions they replace (especially formerly repressive institutions) but allow competing interests and loyalties to flourish.

  • The question of legitimacy has become important in the formation and success of these hybrid structures, making the security sector another front for political power struggles. This is likely to continue until stable institutions are able to provide the services required.

  • Programs to reintegrate fighters returning from regional conflicts to their countries of origin may be crucial to ensuring the security of the region’s population and the stability of its governments.

  • Stockpile management remains a serious problem, especially in light of the increasing sophistication of weapons and ammunition held by armed groups in the region. The proliferation of armed groups and the lack of effective stockpile management escalate the risk of trafficking and diversion. They also increase the danger of unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS), a risk that recent data suggests is very real. In Libya alone, eleven UEMS incidents have occurred since 2011, with 126 fatalities.
  • Though regional security forces may seize weapons and ammunition and keep useful records, the quality of data collection varies greatly. Measuring trafficking in the region’s various countries is key to understanding the evolution of trafficking trends in the wider region. Where comprehensive data on arms seizures is unavailable, other indicators should also be used, including the fluctuation in materiel pricing and reports on the use of firearms in acts of violence.  

Project Publications

  • A Missing Mandate? Casualty Recording in UN Peace Operations, by Hana Salama. HSBA-SANA Briefing Paper, June 2020 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (4.45 MB)
  • Arms Monitoring in Guinea: A Survey of National Forensic Services, by André Desmarais. Briefing Paper, April 2020 (originally published in French in September 2019). 

    Download (2.26 MB)
  • Le monitoring des armes au Sahel: les institutions forensiques nationales, by André Desmarais. SANA Briefing Paper, June 2018 (also available in English)

    Download (1.12 MB)
  • Measuring Illicit Arms Flows: Niger, by Savannah de Tessières. Briefing Paper, March 2017 (also available in Arabic and French).

    Download (959.7 KB)
  • Politics by Other Means: Conflicting Interests in Libya's Security Sector, by Wolfram Lacher and Peter Cole, October 2014. Working Paper No. 20 (also available in Turkish, Arabic)

    Download (1.63 MB)
  • Security and Justice in Post-Revolution Libya: Where to Turn? by Fiona Mangan and Christina Murtaugh with Ferdaouis Bagga, co-published with the United States Institute of Peace. September 2014.

    More information
  • Searching for Stability: Perceptions of Security, Justice, and Firearms in Libya, August 2014. Security Assessment in North Africa Issue Brief No. 1 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (318.61 KB)
  • Identifying Sources: Small-calibre Ammunition in Côte d'Ivoire, by Holger Anders, a joint publication of the Small Arms Survey/Security Assessment North Africa project and the Integrated Embargo Monitoring Unit of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. June 2014. Special Report No. 21. (This report is also available in French.)

    Download (3.12 MB)
  • The Arms Trade Treaty: A Step Forward in Small Arms Control?, June 2013. Research Note No. 30, Measures and Programmes (also available in Arabic, French,  and Spanish).

    Download (324.08 KB)
  • After the Fall: Libya's Evolving Armed Groups, by Brian McQuinn, October 2012. Working Paper No. 12 (also available in Arabic)

    Download (1.59 MB)
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    Other Publications

    • Making a Mark: Reporting on Firearms Marking in the RECSA Region, by James Bevan and Benjamin King, a joint publication of Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States, and the Small Arms Survey; with support from the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. April 2013. Special Report No. 19.

      Download (687.73 KB)
    • Lessons Learned from Weapon-marking Initiatives, April 2013. Research Note No. 28, Measures and Programmes (also available in French).

      Download (559.45 KB)
    • Working Against Violence: Promising Practices in Armed Violence Reduction and Prevention, by Paul Eavis, published by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, October 2011 (also available in Spanish).

    • Avoiding Disarmament Failure: The Critical Link in DDR—An Operational Manual for Donors, Managers, and Practitioners, by Peter Swarbrick, February 2007. Working Paper No. 5

      Download (289.07 KB)
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