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Sudan Issue Brief No. 15, Dec 2009 - Supply and demand

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As of late 2009, Sudan's future appears increasingly precarious. Just one year before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) effectively expires, key aspects of the deal have yet to be implemented. Despite progress made in recent days, the peace process continues to lurch from one crisis to the next. Just three months ago the head of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) predicted a 50 per cent chance of a return to war with President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP). Meanwhile, there has been no resolution of the Darfur conflict. Significantly, talks are now planned between the government and Darfuri insurgents for January 2010, but the obstacles to progress are many: major armed groups remain splintered and the Arab militias are increasingly disenchanted. Most of the armed actors continue to exercise their military options.

In parallel with these troubling developments, the demand for small arms and light weapons-and some larger conventional weapons systems- among government forces, insurgents, and unaligned groups in the country has grown considerably since the outbreak of hostilities in Darfur in late 20024 and the signing of the CPA in 2005. Arms imports and internal transfers continue in violation of the UN arms embargo and other multilateral restrictions designed to prevent weapons from reaching certain Sudanese actors and areas-and despite the presence of more than 25,000 international peacekeepers tasked with promoting peace and security.

In this context, a clearer understanding of arms flows and holdings is important for understanding current security dynamics and future possible scenarios. This Issue Brief reviews small arms supply and demand among the spectrum of armed actors in Sudan, highlighting recent trends and developments. 5 It also describes the primary supply chains and mechanisms by which these arms transfers take place. It finds the following:

- Demand for small arms and light weapons among a range of state and non-state actors is on the rise in the post-CPA and post-DPA periods. In the lead-up to national elections in April 2010 and the referendum on Southern selfdetermination in January 2011, supply and demand are likely to remain high.

- China and Iran together accounted for an overwhelming majority (more than 90 per cent) of the NCP's selfreported small arms and light weapons and ammunition imports over the period 2001-08. Verifiable transfers to Southern Sudan by Ukraine through Kenya have been documented in 2007-08.

- Despite the extensive and growing weapons holdings of state security forces, a significant majority of weapons circulating in the country remain outside of government control. Khartoum's official security forces may possess some 470,000 small arms and light weapons, while perhaps 2 million weapons are in the hands of civilians countrywide.

- Khartoum's acquisitions of new weaponry will likely lead to greater arms proliferation and insecurity in Sudan, given that government stocks are a major source of weaponry for armed groups (both government allies and adversaries).

- The UN arms embargo has not prevented weapons from reaching Darfur, due to the unwillingness of the governments of Sudan, Chad, and other parties to abide by the terms of the embargo and the lack of robust monitoring by the African Union/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

- The European Union (EU) arms embargo appears to have been largely effective in prohibiting direct weapons transfers from the EU to Sudan, but European arms manufacturers, brokers, and transporters continue to be involved in indirect arms transfers to the country. There is a clear need for better enforcement of the embargo and due diligence by EU-based companies and individuals.

- Available information indicates that the governments of Chad, Libya, and Eritrea have been involved in arming non-state groups in Darfur either as part of an official policy or by turning a blind eye to such activities.