Cycles of Conflict in the Mano River Basin

The Mano River Basin is perhaps best known for the Revolutionary United Front’s campaign of amputation during Sierra Leone ’s civil war from 1991 to 2002. The area encompassed by Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Guinea is rich in diamonds, timber, and cocoa, but incredibly poor in governance, stability, and literacy. There are a number of complexly interwoven threats to the fragile peace in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, and to the difficult stalemate in Côte d’Ivoire. Broadly, these threats are driven by three overarching and interlinked themes: the movement of displaced people; the failure to reintegrate and return them to their homes in the post-conflict context; and the influence of illicit trade.

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Guns in the Borderlands

This research examines local peace building and small arms demand reduction work at the organization level in five diverse areas of Kenya. By looking at strategies, challenges, and successes of community-based organizations, NGO's, and local peace committees, and juxtaposing them with the successes and failures of relevant policy, a gap in demand-size measures at the policy level becomes evident. Demand-based interventions diverge from what an NGO fieldworker called 'traditionally despotic' measures of addressing gun proliferation and allow more creative security policies with the potential to shrink gun markets from the bottom up.

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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.