Presentation on Best
Practice; Successful Projects in the Context of Demand Factor
Manager, Japan Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in
It is a great honor for me to be here today and to give a presentation on our program and its lessons as one of the “Best Practice” of SALW projects. Japan Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in Cambodia (JSAC) has supported the Royal Government of Cambodia in carrying out “Peace Building and Comprehensive Small Arms Management Programme in Cambodia” funded by the Government of Japan since April 2003. Our program aims to address SALW issues in Cambodia through “the effective collection, stockpile management and destruction of SALW” as an implementation effort on ground of the Programme of Action.
The SALW Problem in Cambodia
Turning firstly to an overview of the SALW problem in
Demand Factors of SALW Possession
Why do people in post-conflict countries choose to keep
their SALW? This fundamental question on
demand factors of SALW would be valuable for formulating more effective
strategies in addressing the problems. I
do not think that there is a particular and correct answer which can account
for every situation in all post-conflict areas.
In the case of
JSAC’s Project as one of the Best Practice
JSAC’s program consists of five projects, designed as a
comprehensive set to tackle SALW problems and build peace in
The first project is the Weapons Reduction and Development for Peace Project, in which, JSAC encourages civilians to voluntarily surrender SALW through repeated educational workshops at various levels; from Provincial, District and Commune levels to the grassroots such as Village levels. In addition, JSAC supports local police capacity by providing basic training and equipment in order to improve public security and residents’ confidence in the relevant authorities. JSAC organizes workshops for confidence building as well as for education on SALW. In the confidence building workshop, participants from various backgrounds and positions, such as civilians, local authorities, security forces and local NGO members, together discuss regarding their own security and SALW issues and strengthen social ties within community members. They acknowledge that all actors of various backgrounds are members of the same community, and SALW surrendering benefits to all of them including their families. Those understanding gradually build confidence among the all actors..
Development sub-projects are offered in communities where
people have surrendered all weapons. The
aim of the development assistance is not to offer incentives in exchange for
weapons, but to raise the communities’ living standards, to assure the
establishment of a peaceful society, and to avoid regression to a “Culture of
Violence.” Our approach is neither
buyback nor exchange of weapons, but encourages people to voluntarily surrender
SALW through a series of workshops to raise awareness and foster the “Culture
of Peace.” For instance, in March 2006,
2,482 cached weapons believed to be once owned by the Khmer Rouge were
discovered in Samlot District,
On September 2005, the end of our 1st Phase, all Governors of the target Districts announced the “Gun-Free Declaration,” which stated that local governments would be responsible for maintaining peaceful communities without weapons. This demonstrated that the authorities had acknowledged the value of peace, and were willing to express their commitment in maintaining this peace in their communities. More than 26,000 SALW have been surrendered through the Weapons Reduction and Development for Peace Project so far. This project has contributed to overcoming all demand factors mentioned earlier; improving security to remove people’s perceived needs for self protection; building capacity of and confidence in police and authorities; facilitating the “Culture of Peace” through educational workshops and the surrender of weapons; and promoting a common perception that weapons do not hold any monetary value.
The second project is the Weapons Destruction Project. This project aims to burn and destroy weapons collected from civilians through the Weapons Reduction and Development for Peace Project as well as surplus weapons in police possession, so that they can never be used again. Destruction ceremonies, known as the “Flame of Peace,” are held by the Government of Cambodia, and JSAC supports them. The purpose of the destruction ceremonies is not only to make weapons physically unusable, but also to give the population a positive and symbolic image that they are moving toward peace without weapons. The Government of Cambodia and JSAC have organized 10 destruction ceremonies and destroyed 25,444 SALW so far. This project has contributed to improving physical security by preventing the illicit flow of SALW.
The third project is the Safe Storage and Registration
Project. This project aims to introduce
the proper stockpiling system for legally possessed weapons, and build capacity
of and confidence in police forces. JSAC
supports the Ministry of Interior and Provincial Police in managing secure
stockpiling and computerized registration systems for their weapons. Firstly, JSAC has supported the Provincial
Police to build safe storage warehouses to store the police weapons. As you can see on this slide, the Provincial
Police only had an extremely fragile storage warehouse before JSAC
support. The numbers and types of police
weapons were not recorded, and moreover, these weapons can go missing or be
stolen without being noticed by anyone.
JSAC also installed racks with safety lock functions to store the police
weapons in all police units, from Provincial, District and Commune Police. Secondly, JSAC has supported the required
training on weapons registration and management for police officers. Police officers have learned not only the
procedures of weapons registration and management, but also basic rules such as
the law on weapons and regulations on weapons usage again. Thirdly, Cambodian police officers visited
the police in
I would like to conclude by making three recommendations acknowledged through our project implementation.
First, a comprehensive approach, which covers weapons collection, destruction and stockpile management, is essential in tackling SALW problems in affected countries. JSAC is aiming to reduce, on the one hand, the number of illegally possessed weapons by civilians through the Weapons Reduction and Development for Peace Project, and on the other hand, to reduce dangers caused by legally possessed weapons by police through the Safe Storage and Registration Project, both at the same time. Eventually, collected illegal and surplus legal weapons are destroyed by the Weapons Destruction Project, and they never be used again. If a program lacks any one of the elements I have just mentioned, it may face difficulties. As we can easily imagine, even if an organization collects illegally possessed weapons hardly and does not manage legally possessed weapons, security forces can sell their weapons to black market and people can obtain those weapons again. In that case, the illicit circulation of weapons is never stopped. The comprehensive approach can be a key for effective SALW program.
Second, SALW programs, especially as a part of weapons
collection, should be modified in accordance with circumstances of each
affected country. In
Third, SALW programs, the part of peace building, need to consider more how the demand of civilians for weapons can be reduced. SALW experts tend to think only about how to set up incentives which might work for weapons holders to leave their weapons. I understand that adequate incentives for target civilians or communities in a specific period may be inevitable for SALW programs and produce good results. Meanwhile, in some cases, when buyback schemes or weapons for development projects are in place, people may be led to think that holding weapons yields monetary or non-monetary benefits, and thus not surrender all of them. However, if the “Culture of Peace” is deeply rooted among communities, people will surrender weapons more voluntarily for their own security. While it may be naive to assume that the population will surrender all their illegal weapons after the educational workshops, it is also biased to immediately work on the assumption that people demand some of economic benefit in return. In JSAC’s program, assisting human relations and creating an environment in favor of weapons surrender in communities have proved successful in dramatically decreasing civilians’ demands for weapons. These kinds of activities require to stay in the field and to spend a long time together with population. In fact, as I mentioned before, a village chief who attended a workshop subsequently showed us the location of hidden 2,482 weapons. For him, what was important was not to receive development projects in exchange for weapons, but to enhance the public safety of his village. If the demand factors of SALW, people’s sense of insecurity, a “Culture of Violence” and their economic value, are eliminated, a peaceful community built by the program shall be sustainable. Although the demand factors are differentiated in each affected area, SALW programs should consider and contain countermeasures against them.
Finally, I believe the best practice of implemented projects should be further shared internationally. If we share our lessons today and make good use of them, it will help a great deal in solving SALW problems in affected countries.