Small arms are the scourge of Africa. They find their way into various parts of the continent, raising levels of fear and violence. They move from countries that experience conflict and war to other countries that are at peace but where there is a market for them. One of the key features for these small weapons is the ease with which they can be bought and sold at low cost. The increased level of firearms-related crime has become untenable for African security forces and requires clear government action.

In the period following the end of apartheid, the South African government quickly learned the hard way how weapons that had previously been used in conflict situations could become the tools of choice of violent criminals. Its response was to first understand the depth and scope of the problem and then to act nationally, regionally and internationally. Since 1995, South Africa and Mozambique have cooperated in finding and destroying arms left over from Mozambique's long and bloody civil war. In addition, South Africa has destroyed thousands of domestically seized illicit weapons, established controls on government stockpiles, reviewed and revised its domestic firearms legislation, and assisted Lesotho in the destruction of its surplus small arms and light weapons.

Produced jointly by the Small Arms Survey and UNIDIR, Destroying Surplus Weapons: An Assessment of Experiences in South Africa and Lesotho reviews and evaluates the experiences of South Africa and Lesotho with the disposal of surplus weapons and the management of small arms stocks. The aim of the book is to highlight the lessons from South Africa and Lesotho, and thereby encourage other governments to carry out similar programmes if they have not already begun to do so. The destruction of surplus weapons is cost-effective and can benefit societies in terms of security, development and economics. In particular the body of experience from Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa has practical relevance for other countries in Africa.

Citation: Sarah Meek and Noël Stott (2003). "Destroying Surplus Weapons: An Assessment of Experience in South Africa and Lesotho", UNIDIR, Geneva.