The quest for peace in Africa has become more complex now than ever before. Some world-renowned initiatives have been tracking through research, the advent, and trends of trade in small arms, improvised explosive devices, and light weapons. The war in Libya; the insurgence of non-state actors in Mali; the uprising in some regions of Ethiopia and the perpetual internal conflict in South Sudan; the radicalized extremist violence occurring in Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia, and Kenya all depict that it has become easier to conduct actions that lead to gross destruction of lives. There is an increased level of formal and informal schemes that have enhanced access to small arms. There are more possibilities now than ever before to improvise explosive devices using unconventional means and chemicals. All this has complicated the peace space.
A cursory look at reports on small arms, explosive devices, and security reforms provides some thoughts. Some reports on small arms and explosive devices include The Sentry under The Enough Project and the Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan under the Small Arms Survey series. There are reports by various security reform and stabilization missions by the United Nations (UN) and the European Commission as well as reports by peace agencies.
The reports such as the Sentry Reports on South Sudan indicate that there are numerous actual gains to be made from trade and improvising small arms and explosives.1 The review also points out that the actual identities of beneficiaries are not always brought to the attention of the public The reports further indicate that at the core of local conflicts there seems to be an apocalyptic surge in the number of small arms, improvised devices, and light weapons.
However, the reports have barely raised solutions that can work to create peace. The effort to address the space of small arms and improvised devices has relied on the use of power and position of authority as the basis for "control, restriction, prevention, to deny access and right to small arms" as indicated by the Small Arms Survey, Saferworld, the UN Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and other agencies and protocols.2
All the reports do not directly address the following questions: Who is benefiting, who is gaining, how much? To what extent is peace increased or decreased by the access to small arms and improvised devices? How are security reform and stabilization missions contributing or inhibiting this state of affairs?