In recent years, West Africa has experienced an alarming escalation in violence, leading to dramatic cost to human life and political instability in the region. The Sahelian states, encompassing Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, have seen a surge in deaths and injuries due to armed conflicts and violence, with a majority of violent events happening within fifty kilometers of their shared borders.[1] Conflicts and unrest have caused widespread displacement, with millions fleeing their homes. As part of his New Agenda for Peace, in July 2023, the United Nations Secretary-General highlighted how the proliferation, diversion, and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW)[2] “undermine the rule of law, hinder conflict prevention and peacebuilding, enable criminal acts, including terrorist acts, human rights abuses and gender-based violence, drive displacement and migration, and stunt development.”[3] The West Africa region and most particularly countries in the Sahel are harsh testimonies of how weapons contribute to the destabilization of societies, and how their proliferation fuels and prolongs conflict, hindering humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding assistance.



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