IPPIA in partnership with BICC, NCRC and KSG hold a workshop to discuss Small Arms and Light Weapons Control in Africa: A case study of West Pokot

By Ngare Willsmith Ochillo

National Security challenges require flexible and skillful security managers and leaders capable of developing innovative solutions and enduring partnerships to successfully devise and execute strategic security options to address the dynamic security situations that are common along our border with the republic of Uganda.

In light of this statement, as part of the project Supporting Small Arms and Light Weapons Control in Africa; the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC), Bonn, Germany, together with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in collaboration with the Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IPPIA) at the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa), the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) and the Kenya School of Government (KSG) organized a workshop which took place at School of Humanities 5th floor conference room on February 28.

Dr. Moses Onyango, the Chair of the Department of International Relations gave the opening remarks. This was followed by a brief report from National Crime and Research Centre (NCRC) by Vincent Opondo on Small Arms in West Pokot. Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) refer to a category of weapons that are generally designed for individual or small group use, including handguns, rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers, among others. The proliferation and misuse of SALW have been a major security concern in many parts of the world, including Africa and in Particular West Pokot which was the case study.

Representing the USIU-Africa’s Vice Chancellor Professor Margee Ensign, Professor Munyae Mulinge, the Deputy Vice - Chancellor Academic Affairs, welcomed guests to the event. He noted that it was an honor for the institution to host the event which in turn was successful. He noted the effects that the arms have brought to the livelihoods of the pastoral communities and retaliated that these arms become dangerous only when used by human beings. “Without human intervention, I do not see any harm arms have on us because it needs the expertise of humans to kill and destroy,” he said.

Dr. Lamis Saleh (BICC), then gave key highlights on the “Small arms, conflict and peacebuilding” in form of Qualitative data as Professor Kennedy Mkutu (USIU-Africa) discussed on “Arms and pastoralist conflict on the Kenya-Uganda border: Current trends and governance considerations” from the Qualitative data he had gathered. The second session was then a highlight of “Land commodification in West Pokot and implications for conflict dynamics” by Dr. Per Knutsson and Dr. James Drew (Gothenburg University).

It was noted that, forceful disarmament has led communities to be very secretive about ownership of small arms. Police posts established along the common border with Uganda and between neighboring counties have quelled conflict to some extent, but much remains to be done before community members can voluntarily relinquish the illegal arms.

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