28 Oct 2010: Arms transfers to conflict zones in Africa: suppliers need to take greater responsibility, according to new SIPRI reports

http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/afrika

(Stockholm, 28 October 2010) Two new SIPRI reports highlight the limitations of United Nations attempts to control the flows of arms into two African conflict zones, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Somalia, and the role of potential arms-supplying states.

In the DRC and Somalia, the UN has imposed arms embargoes designed to prevent rebel groups from accessing arms. In addition, countries wanting to send arms and ammunition to government forces must notify specially created Sanctions Committees―which, in the case of Somalia, has the authority to block the transfer.  The two new SIPRI reports show that enforcing these embargoes has proved problematic. And even arms supplies that do not violate the embargoes can have undesirable consequences.

‘Arms flows and the conflict in Somalia’, by SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter D. Wezeman, examines recent arms supplies to Somalia and to African countries that have been involved in the conflict there: Eritrea and Ethiopia―two states that are widely believed to be fighting a proxy war in Somalia―and Burundi and Uganda, which provide peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

As the paper shows, there is a real risk that arms supplied to Somali government forces and the AMISOM contributors could fall into the wrong hands and could be used in human rights abuses or aggravate tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

‘Arms transfers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo: assessing the system of arms transfer notifications 2008–10’, by SIPRI Senior Researchers  Mark Bromley and Dr Paul Holtom, focuses on implementation of the requirement that arms suppliers to the Congolese Government notify the UN Sanctions Committee. The report highlights some loopholes and grey areas in the current notification system. It also argues that a lack of full cooperation between the permanent members of the Security Council and the UN Sanctions Committee is undermining the system.

In a situation where arms supplied to DRC government forces continue to be diverted to armed groups and used against government forces and international peacekeepers, it is vital that the notification system works as planned. If it does not, there is a risk that arms supplies will fuel conflict in the eastern DRC and raise tensions in the Great Lakes region.

For editorsDownload the full reports here.

For information and interview requests contact Stephanie Blenckner (blenckner@sipri.org, +46 8 655 97 47, mobile: +46 708 655 360).

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