Globalization and the Kalashnikov: The Politics of the Proliferation and Control of SALW
The recent acrimonius negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty have drawn attention to the politically fraught process of regulating the proliferation and diffusion of small arms and light weapons (SALW). There are now 640 million SALW in circulation all over the world, manufactured, traded, trafficked, transfered and used by a bewildering array of state and non-state actor. The Kalashnikov has become a global, and globalized, phenomenon. In an article posted online today in the academic journal Global Policy, Eiko Elize Sakamoto, Hugh Griffiths and I explore the global politics of SALW prolieration and control. Here is the abstract of the article:
This article will show how trends of globalization have transformed both the proliferation of and efforts to control small arms and light weapons (SALW). We first examine how the distribution of small arms has become more diffused, moving away from a state-centric model of ‘arms transfers’ to circulations of SALW through outsourced networks comprising a myriad of public and private actors. We then show how the post-Cold War international environment has allowed progressive norm entrepreneurs like middle powers and NGOs greater voice in determining SALW policy. Simultaneously, however, it has also allowed great power states and defense companies to benefit from the legitimacy of associating with human rights groups, ‘capturing’ the SALW policy process, particularly the Arms Trade Treaty, in a way that protects their interests. Efforts to transfer, exchange and control small arms and light weapons are thus indicative of wider global political processes in which power is diffused through multilayered networks and complexes. Exploring the policy implications, we argue that these networks enable actors to augment their power and capacity through alliances with other agents, but simultaneously constrain their scope of action and ability to control the process. This makes it more difficult for actors representing the public interest to override those acting in private or particularist interests.