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From 'Voluntary' to a 'Binding' Process: Towards the Securitisation of Small Arms
Journal of Contemporary African Studies (2008)
  • Emmanuel Kwesi Aning
This article analyses the issue of small arms and light weapons (SALW) proliferation in both Ghana and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Specifically, it assesses the extent to which both Ghana and ECOWAS have 'securitised' this particular issue through an initial 'voluntary' instrument first in 1998 and extended in 2001 until the signing in June 2006 of a legally and politically binding ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials. To do so, the article begins by setting out the scope and a brief history of the SALW problem in West Africa. It then focuses specifically on Ghana in order to illustrate some the challenges and dilemmas in dealing with this threat. The following section deals with ECOWAS and the challenges of SALW. It analyses and traces the discourses and processes of transforming the availability of SALW into a 'security problem' by providing some of the official language used to discuss this issue. Subsequently, an examination is undertaken of Ghana and the challenge of SALW as an illustrative case, especially given the extent of indigenous manufacture. Such recognition of the dangers of SALW proliferation has resulted in a raft of legislation criminalising both the manufacture and possession of small arms but with minimal impact. The article explains the resilience of SALW manufacture and trafficking through a social capital approach. In the concluding section, it explores the differing perceptions of SALW and security and points to the apparent schism between state and community perceptions of the level of threat posed by SALW.
  • firearms,
  • national security,
  • threats of violence,
  • ecowas,
  • weapons legislation
Publication Date
April, 2008
Citation Information
Emmanuel Kwesi Aning. "From 'Voluntary' to a 'Binding' Process: Towards the Securitisation of Small Arms" Journal of Contemporary African Studies Vol. 26 Iss. 2 (2008)
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