Efficacy of Small Arms Control Measures and National Reporting: Learning from Africa (Research Note 33)

Khristopher Carlson
Research Note

Effective control of small arms is largely dependent upon each state’s capacity and willingness to design and implement appropriate legislation, regulatory procedures, and policies. Various international and regional frameworks—some of which are legally binding—set agendas, call for or require concrete actions, and encourage best practices in this area. In many of these contexts, states have committed themselves to issuing reports on progress made in implementation. Such reports also help to guide the matching of needs with resources.

Efficacy of Small Arms Control Measures and National Reporting: Learning from Africa, a Research Note by the Small Arms Survey and the Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP), emphasizes the importance of reporting while acknowledging its limits.

The Note draws on a 2013 study by the Survey and GRIP to review African states’ activities—54 African Union (AU) members and Morocco—with respect to six broad arms control measures. This study aimed to support programming initiatives under a multi-year AU and European Union (EU) project entitled ‘The Fight against the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of Firearms in Africa’. The Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) has been facilitating the implementation of this EU-funded project since 2010.

Researchers examined national reports submitted by 50 African states under the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). They also conducted in-depth assessments of eleven states’ capacity to implement small arms control measures.

The study highlights the limitations of self-reporting, showing that while national reports typically capture general implementation activity, states rarely provide details on specific challenges to implementation. Although the study focuses on the experiences of countries in Africa, its findings are relevant for the international community as a whole.

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Keywords: Reporting Measures Controls Illicit trafficking