A Demand-Side Approach to Fighting Small Arms Proliferation

My feature article from the African Security Review is available in full as a pdf here. It was published in 2003 and outlines the theoretical underpinnings of fieldwork I later conducted in East and West Africa.


Small arms and light weapons (SALW) can be used and re-used as long as demand for them exists. They often outlast fragile peace agreements and fuel post-conflict crime. Local-level approaches to fighting SALW proliferation focus on reducing the demand for guns and promoting alternative methods of conflict resolution. Policy-makers, whose aim should be to address the structure within which SALW circulate, have failed to adequately address the demand side of the market. Governments, aid organisations, and regional and international bodies have concentrated their efforts to stem SALW proliferation in the realm of manufacturers and suppliers on one hand and responses to violent conflict on the other, thus failing to articulate and use the wide range of possible interventions.