Small Arms and Security System Reform
A fundamental security issue
There is now a growing acceptance within the international development community that human security is an essential public need, like education, health and clean water. There is also little doubt that the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms presents a significant challenge to those governments and authorities struggling with weak governance structures and an unreformed security system. Experience has demonstrated that the security sector becomes highly politicised during times of weak governance, which results in a range of undesirable problems. These may include a lack of accountability within the security system, and the deteriorating delivery of security and justice. This can result in further proliferation of weapons, poor cooperation between governance organizations and security actors and growing mistrust from the population, leading to internal instability. The control of small arms and light weapons must therefore be a fundamental component to be considered during any security system reform.
In November 2009 the Board of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons adopted a Policy Statement on SALW and Security System Reform. They recognised that addressing the fundamental linkages between Small Arms and Security System Reform is an important precursor towards effective democratic governance. Therefore the Forum is now ready to engage with parliaments and parliamentarians across all regions to jointly address these challenges, and to ensure that we place Small Arms firmly within the Security System Reform agenda. I hope that this handbook will provide parliamentarians with background information that they may need to take an effective parliamentary interest in this important national and global issue.