Integration of small arms and light weapons into national development frameworks

The integration of small arms control into national development processes is highly relevant in the context of RevCon4. There is a clear correlation between the proliferation of small arms and the achievement of sustainable development goals. At the national level, linking small arms control to development frameworks is essential for addressing the complex and interconnected challenges posed by illicit weapons proliferation.

Practically, integrating small arms control into national development frameworks involves aligning strategies, policies, and interventions aimed at reducing illicit weapons flows with broader socio-economic development priorities. By embedding small arms control measures within these frameworks, countries can tackle the root causes and consequences of small arms proliferation, such as conflict, insecurity, and armed violence, which hinder sustainable development efforts. This approach recognizes that security and stability are fundamental prerequisites for sustainable development and underscores the importance of addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by small arms proliferation in a holistic manner.

In recent years, the Small Arms Survey has collaborated with various national authorities on small arms control, particularly in West and Central Africa, to connect small arms control to national development frameworks through national action plans (NAPs). In the region, NAPs have become the preferred framework for guiding efforts to curb illicit small arms proliferation at the country level. Since 2021, the Survey has conducted assessments of ongoing and expired NAPs in Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. These assessments revealed that NAPs are often controlled by a limited number of participants (national authorities and security stakeholders), resulting in a narrow focus on security issues and neglecting broader public policies and strategies, such as social cohesion, socio-economic development, and gender. Often, this narrow focus leads to a lack of national ownership across the government and beyond, restricting the allocation of public resources for implementing the NAP. However, in recent years, there has been growing recognition in West Africa that small arms control serves broader objectives rather than being an end in itself. Based on these findings, the Survey is currently supporting the development of new NAPs in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to connect small arms control to national development frameworks.

Additionally, in June 2022, in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, the Small Arms Survey held a roundtable discussion as part of BMS8 to identify points of convergence between arms control initiatives and other processes relevant to the UN framework on sustaining peace, drawing on experiences from West Africa. This event highlighted how new-generation NAPs can enhance the effectiveness of national policies and donor interventions across West Africa by linking with other national development frameworks.

More recently, based on the observation that arms control and on women, peace, and security (WPS) both contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Survey published a briefing paper that identifies potential avenues for future work to better harmonize efforts related to WSP and small arms control, and improve the effectiveness of both policy areas in achieving their objectives.

Find out more by reading the publications below or checking out relevant outputs in our Resource Library.

Meaningful Partners: Opportunities for Collaboration between Women, Peace and Security, and Small Arms Control at the National Level

By Callum Watson

Briefing Paper     |     February 2024


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Taking Stock of Action on the Illicit Small Arms Trade: National Action Plans as a Strategic Tool for Weapons and Ammunition Management/Small Arms Control

By Emilia Dungel and Francis Wairagu

Blog Post     |     June 2020


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A Collaborative Approach To Small Arms Control In West Africa (BMS8 side event)

By Callum Watson

Video     |     June 2022