Baseline Survey on Small Arms and Light Weapons – Great Lakes and Horn of Africa

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The situation of human security in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa Regions continues to pose great threat to individuals, communities and states in spite of the multi-faceted interventions made by respective players. Insecurity posed by the easy availability of small arms and light weapons (SALW) complicates the situation.
Peace has been elusive considering the number and length of conflicts in the region, particularly relating to; resources, political competition and economic disparity. Internationalisation of the conflicts also compounds the situation thus making resolution far-fetched. Conflicts largely contribute and drive the demand and supply of SALW, therefore worsening the human security situation in the region.

As a faith based organisation, FECCLAHA has a competitive advantage based on a broad network of membership in ten countries led by the Secretariat. The network has representation from the grassroots, national and regional levels. In this respect, FECCLAHA will continue making significant contribution towards improving human security in the region.

The Secretariat has constituent membership in ten countries; Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. As a regional organisation, FECCLAHA’s constituency serves towards information dissemination, conflict prevention and resolution as well as peace building.

Roles and responsibilities of various players in making contribution to human security have been undertaken by the state, inter-governmental bodies, international organisations, research institutions, civil society and community based organisations respectively. Presence in each of the ten countries provides the organisation with the comparative advantage of creating linkages with the different stakeholders and players in the region. Partnership with the respective players complements information dissemination and creating awareness.

The process of addressing SALW and human security requires partnership between the state, inter-governmental and civil society organisations as well as communities. To improve such partnerships, state-civil society dialogue would be necessary for creating the required linkages. Such a forum is lacking and could be facilitated through the FECCLAHA Secretariat.

Several disarmament initiatives have been undertaken in a number of the countries under review. From the early 90s to date, disarmament exercises have largely been forceful as respective governments made attempt to recover illegal SALW amongst communities. In spite of several disarmament exercises in each country, proliferation of SALW still continued and the governments have had to change tact.

In most of the countries in the region, forceful disarmament has been replaced by practical disarmament, which addresses the underlying causes of proliferation of SALW. Also, provides sustainable solutions through the provision of infrastructure and ensuring good governance. This report notes that FECCLAHA’s role would be to prepare the communities ahead of disarmament exercise by informing them of the government’s intentions and objectives. In addition, the role of FECCLAHA would be to seek communities’ cooperation in view of improving human security and safety.

Following research conducted in the region on Disarmament, Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) published findings on Best Practices Guidelines. FECCLAHA’s has a significant role to play in terms of unpacking and interpretation of the Guidelines in the best interest of the affected communities. This could be achieved in liaison with RECSA, governments and likeminded institutions.

A number of international, regional and national instruments have been established to address the proliferation of SALW. In most cases, communities are not aware of the existence of such instruments or lack sufficient information. In addition to information dissemination, FECCLAHA’s role would also involve monitoring the implementation of the instruments. In addition, ensure that governments in the region fast track implementation to the advantage and benefit of the communities.

Legal language used in most national, regional and international instruments guiding states on the prevention of SALW proliferation is complicated and the issues are also complex. It was noted that so far, only a few organisations are making effort in interpretation of the legal instruments in a language that could be understood by the communities. This is a gap that FECCLAHA could fill through unpacking the instruments into simpler language and producing simple media messages.

Inter-governmental organisations play important roles based on their mandate and role in security, peace and conflict management as well addressing the menace caused by small arms proliferation. However, in most cases, intergovernmental organisations have to identify regional and local organisations to complement their efforts at the grassroots level. For instance, the (Africa Union) AU Commission has as Continental Strategy Framework towards ameliorating SALW.

For all intents and purposes, the AU Commission would require civil society groups to work with in the implementation process. This is a role cut-out for FECCLAHA as a regional faith based organisation with grassroots comparative advantage. Areas of engagement based on FECCLAHA’s strengths as referenced are; dissemination, awareness creation, advocacy and creating a linkage between international organisations and respective communities.

In terms of fundraising, the research found that while it is true that donor funding has been dwindling over the past decade, partnership with international organisations increases the opportunity of tapping resources allocated for implementation. For instance, FECCLAHA should fundraise to support the implementation of the AU Strategy Framework on SALW. Also, some donors might be interested in supporting the implementation of specific provisions of the Nairobi Protocol.

International organisations have broad but specific mandate which requires input from civil society. For example, research institutions regularly produce in-depth analysis based on primary research. Depending on the scope and research objectives, community representatives participate as key respondents. Hence, advocacy on research findings against the backdrop of FECCLAHA’s inherent strength and a solid constituency across the region is as powerful as it is fundamental.

Decline of value system in most countries largely contribute to crime and violent conflicts where individuals and communities experience the brunt of insecurity. Based on her comparative advantage, FECCLAHA’s role was noted to be of significant contribution in restoring value system as an effective approach towards addressing some of the problems facing communities, particularly gender based violence and deviant youth who engage in violent crime.

FECCLAHA Baseline Survey on SALW