Will Nyumba Kumi address small arms menace?

Taking action on small arms and light weapons proliferation

Highly portable, easy to conceal and deadly, small arms and light weapons such as hand guns, rifles and automatic weapons, are used to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year.

In the current security climate in Kenya the need to prevent the spread and diversion of small arms and light weapons to unintended people and places cannot be gainsaid.


·         As a result interest has been growing in many aspects of small arms and light weapons control – from import, export and transit controls, end-use certification, and monitoring; to customs and border-control procedures and security of arms stockpiles.

·         Many ‘traditional’ small arms and light weapons control efforts have tended to focus on the symptoms of small arms and light weapons misuse rather than the fundamental issues which cause people to procure and misuse them.

·         Control efforts have often taken place in post-war settings and have been based on a misleading assumption that enhancing state rather than community security is the most important factor in preventing a return to conflict.

·         In 2001, the UN recognised the need for international action on the global problem of the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. 

·         The UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (PoA), was agreed in July 2001 and remains the primary international agreement on the control of small arms and light weapons. 

·         Nyumba Kumi will enhance those efforts.


Efforts to reduce illegal guns in the wrong hands has included burning those surrendered.

Where do Security concerns meet with Justice sector?

Developing the security and justice sectors interface Nyumba Kumi holds that Security and access to justice are basic rights. However, efforts to develop a country’s security and justice sectors must take into account the needs of local people, not just those of the state. 

·         Security and access to justice are basic rights and part of a dignified human life. This means they are just as important as other areas of development like health or education. 

·         Where security and access to justice are not available equally to all, grievances may develop that cause or inflame conflict. And without basic security and the rule of law, it is difficult for other development efforts to take root and flourish.

·         In many countries, especially those emerging from violent conflict, the institutions and organisations that make up the security and justice sectors (such as the police, armed forces and judiciary) are often unable to provide people with adequate services. 

·         Parliaments, civil society groups and the media may also struggle to provide effective oversight and ensure accountability. In some cases, security and justice institutions may even be abusive, corrupt or used to serve the interests of political elites.

·         However, efforts to develop security and access to justice are often focused on formal security and justice institutions at the expense of informal providers (such as clan elders or religious leaders) or social and cultural institutions. They also often omit the broad ‘civil society’ that provides accountability and oversight to the security and justice sectors, and even the communities that live with the daily effects of insecurity.

·         The most effective approaches to security and justice development are those that are tailored to their specific context, understand and meet the needs of communities and the different individuals that live in them, and promote societal involvement in security decision-making.

·         They should also recognise the interrelated and inclusive security interests of communities, Counties and the international system, and measure success – at least in part – by how safe and secure people actually feel.

Security and justice for all citizens to go hand in hand

What is the role of Emerging Powers in all this? 

Emerging powers and peace-building Emerging Powers like China and India are increasingly engaged in conflict-affected states. 

This inevitably affects local peace and security. Promoting dialogue and more coherent approaches between Emerging Powers and other international actors will help ensure that changing global dynamics support peace rather than fuelling conflict.

·         The rise of new global actors - such as China, India and Brazil - is changing the dynamics of global power. The challenges this presents for peace and security at a geo-strategic level have generated much analysis and debate, but the impact of Emerging Powers on peace and security within conflict-affected states has received little attention.

·         The economic growth of Emerging Powers depends in large part on access to overseas markets and resources, so their commercial ties with the developing world - including conflict-affected states - are fast-growing. 

·         The risk is that Emerging Powers can aggravate conflict dynamics, for instance by reinforcing patterns of economic and political exclusion that fuel conflict. But the increasing leverage of Emerging Powers over host governments can be harnessed to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts. So the changing dynamics of global power also present opportunities to promote peace.

·         Building consensus between Emerging Powers and other international actors about how to promote peace and security in conflict-affected areas is a key part of this process. 

·         We need to understand how the growing engagement of Emerging Powers in these contexts is affecting conflict dynamics - and what that means for policy makers. 

This is essential both to inform strategies towards conflict-affected areas and as a basis for dialogue between Emerging Powers and other international actors about how to support Peace and Security.