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Research Report

Removing Small Arms from Society: A Review of Weapons Collection and Destruction Programmes

Sami Faltas
Glenn McDonald
Camilla Waszink
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2001
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 40

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. i-ii)
  2. (pp. iii-iii)
  3. (pp. iv-iv)
  4. (pp. v-v)
  5. (pp. v-v)
  6. (pp. vi-vi)
  7. (pp. vii-viii)
  8. (pp. 1-1)

    This paper reviews formal programmes designed to take small arms and light weapons out of circulation. It covers surplus destruction programmes, as well as collection efforts conducted in peace-building and crime prevention settings. The paper begins with an overview of the main themes and concepts arising in the field of practical disarmament, with illustrations from relevant cases. Some tentative inferences are offered as to best practice in this area. This section also serves to frame the subsequent description of selected weapons collection programmes in four regions: the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Tables provide additional information for many of the...

  9. (pp. 2-8)

    Curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in a given society is a complex undertaking involving three distinct tasks: reducing demand, controlling supply, and recovering stocks.

    Governments can reduce the demand of their citizens for weapons by ensuring public safety, enforcing the law, promoting full employment, facilitating political participation and the non-violent resolution of conflicts, and otherwise gaining the confidence of their citizens. The success of these endeavours will often depend on the active co-operation of business and civil society.

    By contrast, in modern states it is the exclusive responsibility of the government to control the supply of...

  10. (pp. 9-9)

    Weapons collection is not cheap. Even surplus destruction programmes involve a significant outlay of funds, even though no money needs to be spent to recover weapons. To cite one example, described in more detail in the section devoted to Africa, the Government of South Africa has budgeted just over USD 320,000 for the destruction of surplus small arms held by its armed forces. While the relative benefits of weapons collection programmes easily justify their cost, some countries lack the financial and material resources needed to carry them out. For this reason, several mechanisms have been established at the global level...

  11. (pp. 10-22)

    This section reviews selected weapons collection programmes in four regions: the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Accompanying tables provide additional information for many of these programmes, while initiatives in southern Africa, Albania, and Cambodia are examined in somewhat greater detail. Though many of the key concepts and broad lessons learned in the field of practical disarmament were presented earlier, the following survey demonstrates the diversity of weapons collection practice, both across and within various regions.

    Some post-conflict disarmament was undertaken in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua following the end of civil war in those countries. These efforts were largely unsuccessful...

  12. (pp. 23-25)

    This section outlines the key steps generally involved in a weapons collection programme. It is intended only as a framework for planning, since every programme is unique and must be adapted to local circumstances. The following guidelines are a distillation of best practice, derived from several years of field research involving the careful observation and evaluation of these programmes.14

    Conducting a feasibility study: The feasibility of implementing a weapons collection programme in a target area needs to be assessed beforehand. For example, weapons collection efforts attempted during an ongoing armed conflict are not likely to succeed. One needs to take...

  13. (pp. 26-26)
  14. (pp. 27-31)
  15. (pp. 32-32)