Zim: Africa’s leading arms-loving nation

via Zim: Africa’s leading arms-loving nation, objecting to nearly all restrictions on international trade of weapons – NewsDay Zimbabwe 3 November 2014 by Christine Mungai

EARLIER last month, we wrote a story on the lack of international controls on the movement of weapons (READ: There are more rules to control global trade of bananas than AK-47s . . . so buy your guns in Africa).

But there is progress being made to regulate cross-border trade in arms — an Arms Trade Treaty, first put forward in 1997 by a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, has been under international negotiation for the past few years.

In 2001, a non-legally binding treaty was adopted, called the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

But this year, efforts went further with the adoption of the legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty in April, which would regulate the international trade in conventional arms — including guns, ammunition, battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.
“Peace-loving” West Africa?

So far, 121 countries have signed the treaty, but it takes at least 50 countries to both sign and ratify a treaty for it to come into force, and at September’s UN General Assembly, the 50th ratification was secured, which now means that the treaty will come into force at the end of the year — the date announced is December 24 2014.

Last Tuesday, Guinea became the 54th country to ratify the treaty.
The ATT is not an arms control treaty per se, as it does not place restrictions on the types or quantities of arms that may be bought, sold, or possessed by states.

It also does not impact a state’s domestic gun control laws or other firearm ownership policies.

Instead, it’s a “due diligence” treaty that seeks to stop illegal and irresponsible arms transfers, establishing common international standards that must be met before arms exports or imports are authorised, much like the current legislation on “blood diamonds” and conflict minerals.

The majority of African countries have at least signed the treaty, but so far, just six countries in Africa have ratified the treaty as well, all in West Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Looking at who’s not signed yet reveals that the majority of countries still holding out are in East Africa and the Horn, and North Africa — places that have been hard hit by long-running civil wars, and more recently, insecurity and terrorism.

Going deeper, the treaty has six major provisions: prevention of transfers of arms that are likely to cause armed conflict, gender based-violence, violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law, erode socio-economic development by condoning excessive or unaccountable allocation of resources to armaments, and perpetuate corruption.

During the negotiations, countries had a chance to vote on each provision.

Looking at the details, it turns out that Zimbabwe is Africa’s most arms friendly nation.

Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa that objected to nearly all the provisions, refusing to support the regulation on preventing armed conflict, violation of human rights, international humanitarian law, corruption, or socio-economic development.

The only provision Zimbabwe voted in favour with — prevention of transfers that are likely to cause gender based violence, including sexual violence.

Similarly, North Africa — Algeria and Egypt in particular — appears to be ambivalent about the restriction of international trade in arms, objecting to the criteria on the prevention of human rights violations; Sudan, Mauritania and Somalia also voted with North Africa on this criteria.

Few want to deal with corruption
Algeria and Egypt dug in their heels on other provisions too — rejecting the criteria on prevention of international humanitarian law violations, and showing “lukewarm support” for the provision on gender-based violence.

But the one criterion that is illuminating about Africa is the one on corruption, which requires states to deny or restrict transfers that could “exacerbate or institutionalise corruption or corrupt practices”.

So far, the majority of African countries have not expressed a position yet — and Zimbabwe and Egypt rejected its inclusion altogether.

But West Africa again leads the way here — all of West Africa, from Nigeria to Senegal voted in favour of the inclusion of the corruption criteria.

And Zambia seems to be a regional outlier — it voted with West Africa on corruption, breaking ranks with the whole of East and Southern Africa, and also voted yes for all the other provisions . . . but it shares a border with Zimbabwe.


  • comment-avatar
    revenger-avenger 8 years ago

    Yes. Those who live by and worship the sword (zpf) inevitably die by the sword and horribly (zpf)

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 8 years ago

    Now that is surprising. We are suffering under this regime for over 34years and now you are rubbing salt into our wounds. This tyrant is worse than Stalin or Hitler and will go down in History as that. A TYRANT.

  • comment-avatar
    Milmo 8 years ago

    That’s the zanupf way

  • comment-avatar
    Mixed Race 8 years ago

    Why should the masses get surprised with corruption acceptance in the report? The current events in our country proves that it can be used to control subordinates successfully when they try to step out of line.
    Unfortunately,it has caught up with all the opposition parties,so we have a serious disease to eradicate.Corrupt people are like spineless people who have no real independence because they live in permanent fear of exposure.

  • comment-avatar
    Don Cox 8 years ago

    “This tyrant is worse than Stalin or Hitler”

    No, he isn’t. Not even remotely. Mao, Stalin and Hitler were in a completely different league from this tin pot Marxist banana (or diamond) republic dictator.

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 8 years ago

    Africas Leading arms nation while people live in poverty- no electricity – running water. companies closing down one after the other – perhaps the heading should have read Africas leading Gun Totting Nation