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Small Arms Trafficking in West Africa

Allison Owen


Well-established arms smuggling rings in the sub-region of West Africa continue to attract terrorist organizations. With direct access to these weapons, they can enhance their power in the region and extend their reach to carry out profit-generating illicit activities. This paper addresses weak points associated with illicit arms trafficking that could potentially be exploited. For instance, there is a lack of a common communication and surveillance data sharing system between civil aviation authorities within the sub-region, no standardized end-user certificate (EUC) form, and no internationally accepted scheme for legitimately verifying the delivery of arms. Based on these three areas of concern, the author recommends for the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) to implement distributed ledger technology (DLT) and a common EUC format. In addition, the author notes the potential use of intelligent data processing by exporting states to confirm the legitimacy of EUCs. By implementing such recommendations, the countries within the sub-region as well as the wider international community can enhance their abilities to detect certain red flags of illicit arms trafficking.


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