Sudan Hosts Conference on Small Arms

This week, the First Regional Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons will take place in Khartoum, Sudan:

The two-day event, organized by Sudan’s Ministry of Interior and Sudan’s Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration Commission in collaboration with the Embassy of Germany, the United Nations Development Programme and the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, will involve participation by representatives from Libya, the Central African Republic, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Specific objectives of the conference include creating a forum for regional dialogue on the illegal trade, circulation and use of small arms; developing a harmonized regional approach to control small arms; developing a strategy for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants; and creating a unique and holistic mechanism to monitor small arms control programmes across the borders of participating countries.

The absence of South Sudan from the list of organizers and invitees raises immediate questions: Has South Sudan indeed not been invited? If not, will the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, and the rebellions within both countries, receive serious examination at the conference?

The conference organizers are stressing border security as a key theme. Given the list of invitees, it looks major topics of discussion might also include the Lord’s Resistance Army (whose violence has affected the DRC and CAR, as well as other countries not on the list of invitees) and weapons flows out of Libya since the fall of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi last year.

For more information on small arms flows in the Sudans, you can visit Small Arms Survey. Their latest brief on Sudan, from April, is here (.pdf). One key paragraph says:

Steady supplies of small arms and light weapons to all parties are fuelling these conflicts, threatening to extend and prolong them significantly. Since independence, official bans on materiel acquisitions by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) have been lifted and the government is exploring expanded defence contracts with a number of
interested states. At the same time, an increasing number of non-state actors
in South Sudan, including tribal groups and rebel militia groups, are acquiring weapons illicitly at what appear to be increasingly rapid rates. As the demand for weapons in South Sudan grows, external actors are meeting supply needs.

This paragraph points to the importance, then, of looking at the issue not just from a regional perspective, but an international one as well, taking account of suppliers.

What do you expect to come of the conference?

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7 thoughts on “Sudan Hosts Conference on Small Arms

    • I’m not sure if I would call if a joke, but I must agree that this doesn’t seem to have the best circumstances surrounding it. It’s being hosted in a nation that has an almost-public policy of arming groups, the list of nations participating doesn’t include several that would seem obvious such as South Sudan and Uganda and I don’t know of anything that would convince the Sudanese government to change its behavior now.

  1. What you said is exactly my thinking. You can’t convince Northern Sudan to stop war. What Alex has quoted from the brief of Small Arms Survey is enough to undertstand part of the problem:

    ” As the demand for weapons in South Sudan grows, external actors are meeting supply needs”.

    The suppliers are known and something needs to be done about them.

    Moreover, Sudan these days is not in a position to be listened to. Bechir is pursued by the world community for human right abuses. It is like asking Nazi Germany then to stop sending jews to gas chambers.

    N.B: one of the most worrying issue now in this region (sahara-sahel) is what is happening in Northern Mali. No one is lifting a finger to help solve the issue. No one. Afghanistan is moving in that area. When someone talks about the fabrication of all this, the “specialists” keep quiet.

    • ECOWAS reportedly is organizing 3,000 soldiers for Mali, though I wouldn’t expect them to try to take it on their own. Also I’m not quite sure your point about Afghanistan is, the arms trade has been big in Afghanistan for decades and not something that appeared recently.

  2. No one yet knows the ECOWAS 3,000 is for what. To get rid of Captain Sanogo or get rid of AQIM/Ansardine/Mujao? A blogger tonight somewhere asking where these people get their the gas for their tousands vehicles, spare parts, food, some rest and take care of the wounded. Certainly not in Bamako or Tripoli now. Talkative specialists on GWOT never ask these kind of questions now or even earlier.

    When I said Afghaistan is moving in the sahara-sahel region, I meant the area is afghanistanized or waziristanized. For small arms in Afghanistan, it is another story: look at Iran, China, Russia and probably India. The NATO countries will probably not sell arms to the Afghans, I guess.

    • The U.S. and U.K. might supply some but it’s more efficient for the Afghan government to buy from Russia, China and India. Also the U.S., France and U.K. wouldn’t trust Afghanistan with their advanced weapons. That is, of course, unless you mean the illegal small arms trade. For that you probably don’t even need new weapons from the manufacturers, the area’s flooded with weapons (same for West Africa).

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