Governance Efforts to Prevent Weapons Trafficking

The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime. Non-State Actors in Security, (2013)


In the 2005 motion picture Lord of War, Nicholas Cage plays the role of an unscrupulous arms broker who at one instance remarks: ‘If I do my job right, an arms embargo should be practically impossible to enforce’. This rather cynical but convincing statement impressively illustrates the growing problem of the illicit trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) which provides a considerable challenge for governance efforts taken at global, regional, subregional, national, and local levels.1 These weapons are easy to hide and to transport, and the illegal arms trade is often connected with other forms of organized crime, such as the diamond trade or drug trafficking (see Jakobi, Chapter 5, this volume). In addition, the supply routes for arms are both plentiful and complex structures which pose significant challenges to any governmental efforts to prevent trafficking. SALW control efforts are further inhibited by structural causes on the demand side: Fragile statehood, economic underdevelopment, intrastate conflicts, terrorism, and transnational organized crime provide the international community of states with additional challenges.



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