Taking stock of action on the illicit small arms trade: National Action Plans as a strategic tool for weapons and ammunition management/small arms control (English language)
Small Arms Survey Online Forum Inventory 5
By: Emilia Dungel and Francis Wairagu
National Action Plans (NAPs) are critical for systematically and effectively implementing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating small arms control measures within states. NAPs clearly elaborate national priorities and facilitate coordination between national government agencies and key stakeholders, as well as with external partners and donors. The fifth panel of the Small Arms Survey 2020 online forum ‘Taking stock of action on the illicit small arms trade’ brought together actors from the national, regional, and international levels to share experiences from their work on NAPs.
According to the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), ten out of the 15 states (Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) in their region currently have NAPs. Of these, eight have implemented between 30 to 60 per cent of their targeted interventions — a rate which largely depends on the phase, level, and area of intervention.
Although states recognize the importance of NAPS, they require considerable financial resources and technical expertise. The NAP process involves baseline assessments to analyze the current situation and assess priorities; drafting sessions to agree on a collective vision, conduct data collection, and write the actual texts; as well as validation and approval to ensure that there is national buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. The highest level of buy-in is the inclusion of NAPs in national development plans and their integration into national budgets — this has not been easy to achieve.
Furthermore, if there is currently no NAP in place, the development truly begins at square one. This can be a daunting task and from the outset it can affect the momentum of the process depending on’ existing capacities — especially when it comes to technical personnel. Although monitoring and evaluation remains vital, there has been a decrease in reporting from RECSA member states due to reporting fatigue, limited budgets, as well as capacity. In addition, there is a sense that reporting has thus far not yielded fruits in terms of allocation of resources or support to areas that countries consider urgent but for which they lack funds to intervene.
A few common needs identified in developing NAPs and the indicators used to monitor their implementation relate to:
- the importance of strengthening data collection;
- sharing data between relevant stakeholders to solidify synergies; and
- boosting data visualization.
Taken together, these steps help to ensure that the data collected and shared is turned into information that can be used by decision makers.
To fortify NAP processes in the future, states should consider the following checklist:
- Ensure national buy-in at all levels to create a solid foundation for implementation;
- Strengthen the national focal point;
- Support capacity development of relevant institutions;
- Conduct thorough assessments to prioritize needs;
- Establish measurable indicators to enable subsequent monitoring and evaluation;
- Harmonize the NAPs with national development frameworks and priorities, as well as international commitments;
- Safeguard coordination and cooperation between relevant agencies; and
- Seek support from relevant funding institutions to mobilize resources for activities
Well-trodden paths already exist and should be utilized. Shared experiences show that often, there is no need to reinvent the wheel but rather build on existing, needs, and practices.
The speakers for this panel were:
- Chair: Francis Wairagu, Small Arms Survey
- Anne-Séverine Fabre, Small Arms Survey
- Abubaker Ntambi, RECSA
- Abraham Kuch Kuol, South Sudan
To learn more about NAPs, see:
- Designing and implementing a National Action Plan (Modular Small-Arms Control Implementation Compendium; 04.10)
- Implementing the Arms Trade Treaty and the UNPoA: A Guide to Coordinating an Effective Arms Control System (Centre for Armed Violence Reduction)