Home Institution

University of Vermont

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


According to the Small Arms Survey, there are an estimated 875 million small arms and light weapons (SALW) in circulation across the globe. All countries, as well as numerous non-state armed groups, have access to these types of weapons. There are both legal and illegal means of obtaining such weapons, and they can be used for a variety of purposes [1]. While SALW do have a range of legitimate uses, these are also the primary instruments of violence used in most internal and inter-communal conflict.[2] This study aims to address negative impacts that access to these types of weapons has on the human security and development of impoverished and underdeveloped regions. To do so, this research shall focus on one region in particular.

Access to SALW has had a particularly destructive impact on Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan. The proliferation of SALW, especially by non-state actors (particularly armed groups and civilians) is an important factor in the escalating violence of the Sudan region [3]. In order to understand the harmful role that small weapons play in Sudanese conflict, it is crucial to understand the history of this conflict and its sources. Much of the armed conflict in this region occurs as a result of ethnic or political divisions that simply grow beyond government control. This violence, worsened by the ease with which portable SALW are obtained, creates a myriad of problems for the region. Development stagnates, and in some cases ceases completely. Human security diminishes for people living within the direct conflict zone, as well as beyond the country’s borders. It is important that adequate measures be taken to reduce the danger that SALW create in Sudan and South Sudan. Many organizations believe that the best way to do this is through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, also known as DDR. This paper provides some alternatives to traditional DDR strategies.

[1] Small Arms Survey, “ Weapons and Markets,” http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/index.php?id=122 (accessed November 10, 2013)

[2] Peter Hazdra, Small Arms- Big Problem (Vienna: Schriftenreihe der Landesverteidigumgsakademie, 2007), 15.

[3] Human Security Baseline Assessment, “Arms and Ammunition Tracing Desk,” http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org/facts-figures/arms-and-ammunition-tracing-desk.html (accessed November 9, 2013)


African Studies | International and Area Studies