The illicit small arms trade has been one of the biggest security threats of recent decades. The rapid flow of small, concealable small arms into war torn countries has been a major security threat to all nations, developed and developing. As of now, there is one piece of legislation to try to control the flow of arms internationally, called the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty), but many countries are not implementing the treaty. One of the challenges of regulating the small arms trade is their varying degrees of legality throughout the globe, and certain countries have very loose restrictions on who the buyers of weapons are. For example, in 2001, the government of Nicaragua failed to verify the legitimacy of a fraudulent purchase of 3,000 assault rifles, and they were sold to Colombian cartels.
Since South Sudan’s creation, the government defense forces took the rebels weapons and now uses them to protect the country. These rebels would often buy weapons from neighboring countries, without going through any proper channels. While South Sudan has done little to enforce the basic pillars of the ATT, South Sudan is hopeful that a solution can be reached for countries with little resources to fix this pressing issue. South Sudan also expresses interest in signing and ratifying the ATT, however it is not hopeful the treaty itself will hold any power unless more countries ratify it.
The solutions to the illicit arms trade, specifically small arms, should start at the manufactures. Arms exporting nations must screen the buyers thoroughly and evaluate the risk of those weapons reaching the wrong hands, governments with history of corruption should not be allowed to buy large quantities of weapons that would be sold to terrorists. South Sudan also believes that the problems do not lie in arms alone. A gun is nothing unless there is a body there to pull the trigger, therefore focusing just on the regulation of arms is not enough. That is why South Sudan supports a buyback program similar to Nigeria’s amnesty program. In Nigeria, a government amnesty program for rebels in 2009 had worked up until its end. The rebels would turn in their weapons and report to screening centers, and in exchange, be paid and pardoned. Increased tracing of arms purchases as well as the UN itself screening all major arms purchases to and from treaty members would allow an unbiased, non-corrupt look at the buyer.
- Ben Wedepohl