Empty arms: the effect of the arms trade on mothers and childrenBMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7378.1457 (Published 21 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1457
Analyses of the supply of small arms and major weapons to the 10 countries in the world having the highest under 5-year mortality rates and being engaged in conflict in the year 2000. (POSTED AS SUPPLIED BY THE AUTHOR)
Countries below ranked in order of worst under 5 year mortality rates.
Between 1991 and 2000 internal conflict raged between the Sierra Leone government and rebels comprising the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The latter committed many brutalities, including amputations.
From October 1997 to June 1998 there was a mandatory UN embargo (1132) to both sides and from June 1998 this was continued for the RUF (1171) (1). From 1997 there was also a non-mandatory EU embargo.
Prior to resolution 1132, the US authorized small arms to be exported to Sierra Leone. Major weapons were imported from Belarus, Ukraine, South Africa and Russia (2). Sierra Leone also produced major weapons under license from Slovakia (2). Nationals from UK and Belgium allegedly broke embargos (3). Weapons reaching the RUF allegedly originated in Ukraine, Slovakia, Liberia, and Bulgaria (3). The UN recognised that Belgium and Switzerland were laundering precious stones to pay for the weapons and banned all exports of diamonds (UN 1306) (4, 5). The UN also described how 68 tons of arms from Ukraine were sold to Burkina Faso, subsequently forwarded via Liberia to the RUF (6). Arms from Western countries (US, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Denmark, Canada and Finland) were authorized or delivered to Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovakia and Burkina Faso at the same time they were allegedly supplying Sierra Leone (2).
Like Sierra Leone, Angola was rich with diamond mines and offshore oil, which gave it the ability to trade for weapons. Following independence in 1975, multiple factions engaged in conflict. In 1994, a UN peacekeeping force backed a peace agreement. However, further fighting resumed in 1998 rendering hundreds of thousands homeless. Fighting only ended in 2002, by which time Angola’s infrastructure had been largely destroyed.
A mandatory UN arms embargo against the main rebel faction UNITA was established in 1993 (UN 864) (1).
During the 1990s, government forces were authorized to receive small arms from the US and major weapons from South Africa, Russia, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Belarus (2). Allegedly in breech of embargoes, arms reaching UNITA originated in Bulgaria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Uganda, and Ukraine (3). These arms were allegedly transited through Togo, Burkina Faso, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, and Zambia (3). UNITA allegedly also received > $250 million (£160.3 million, €250.9 million) in covert military aid from the US (7). As with Sierra Leone, those countries allegedly providing UNITA with weapons, received arms from Western and Eastern Block countries. In 1993, a French oil company allegedly provided arms worth £350 million ($546.1 million, €547.9 million)(8).
Following its occupation in 1979, the USSR poured weapons into Afghanistan (9). The US backed factions of anti-soviet forces from 43 countries with several billion dollars while Saudi Arabia provided logistic support (10). Via Pakistan, an estimated 400,000 AK-47 assault rifles (from US), anti-aircraft missiles (from US and UK), vast amounts of Italian-made anti-personnel mines, and millions of rounds of ammunition were imported (9).
By 2000, there were >2.6 million refugees in Pakistan and Iran and up to 750,000 internally displaced (11).
In 1996, non-mandatory UN (1076) and EU arms embargoes were established. In 2000 a mandatory UN embargo (1333) was placed on supplying the Taliban (1). Brokers in Pakistan allegedly supplied the Taliban with weapons, many from China, with financial backing from Saudi Arabia (12). The Taliban were also allegedly supplied with arms from Pakistan (3) and from a broker who bought arms from Bulgaria, Pakistan and Romania (13). The Northern Alliance received arms from Russia (2) and allegedly from Iran (12).
Despite the above, Pakistan, Bulgaria, and Romania were authorized to receive small arms and took delivery of major weapons from Western Countries (US, UK, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Italy, Canada, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands), China, and Eastern Block countries (Russia, Belarus, Slovakia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine) (2).
During the period 1990 to 2000, warring factions devastated the country. In 1993, a UN humanitarian effort relieved famine but withdrew in 1995 following heavy casualties. Most families acquired weapons for protection. (14) A mandatory UN embargo (733) was established in 1992 (1).
Ethiopia and Eritrea were alleged backers of opposing Somali clans (15). Ethiopia was authorized to receive small arms from Germany, and along with Eritrea received major weapons from Russia and Bulgaria. Finland, Germany, Italy, Israel, and China deliveed weapons to Eritrea, whilst Eastern Block countries (Czech Republic, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Hungary) and USA delivered arms to Ethiopia. Arms from Djibouti and Ukraine were also implicated (3). Arms from Russia, Libya, N. Korea, Yugoslavia, and Egypt were sold in market places (16).
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
DRC is a strategically important country rich in minerals. After independence in 1960, Mobutu became President. Despite corruption and human rights abuses, the US supplied DRC with $300 million (£192.3 million, €301.0 million) worth of military hardware and $100 million ($65.0 million, €100.3 million) of military training over the next 30 years (17). In 1997 Kabila came to power and in 1998, fighting broke out which involved factions from 8 neighboring countries (18). The US helped build the arsenals of these 8 countries (17). Weapons also flowed into the region illegally with brokers operating out of countries, including UK, France, and Belgium (18).
In 2000, 1.3 million people had been displaced; 14 million were short of food (19). The government spent <1% of GDP on health and education and 32% of children were malnourished (10% severely so) (20). In 1993, a non-mandatory EU embargo was established (1) and allegedly nationals from Belgium violated it (3). Arms from France also reached the DRC (3).
Authorizations of small arms and deliveries of major weapons to opposing sides of the conflict are shown below (1).
To DRC and supporting countries (namely Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad and Namibia)
• Small arms authorized by US, UK, Germany, South Africa, Finland, Denmark, Canada
• Major weapons from US, France, Russia, China, Italy, Denmark, South Africa, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Poland, Libya. Yugoslavia, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, and Moldova.
To opposing countries (namely Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi)
• Small arms authorized by US, UK, South Africa
• Major weapons from Russia, France, South Africa, Egypt, Slovakia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, and Belarus
Between 1993 and 2000, conflict occurred between the minority Tutsi and majority Hutu tribal groups. It resulted in 200,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons. To secure its borders, Burundi also intervened in the DRC conflict above (18).
From 1996 to1999, there was a non-mandatory arms embargo involving sales to Burundi from DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia (1). Despite this, small arms were authorized by the UK in 1998 (2). From 1989 to1998, arms worth $386,000 (£247,386, €387,228) were imported from the US, which also provided $1.3 million (£830,000, €1.3 million) in military training (17). China, France, North Korea, Russia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and the DRC (under Mobutu) were also allegedly direct suppliers of military aid to Burundi with transit permitted through Angola, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and DRC (21).
An inter-state conflict with neighboring Eritrea started in 1998. Between them $1 million/day (£640,000, €1 million) was spent on war (22). Neither country produced arms so all were imported from outside countries with some brokers and countries supplying both sides.
There was a nonmandatory UN embargo in 1999 (1227) replaced by a mandatory UN embargo (1298) in 2000 that was lifted May 2001. In 1999 a non-mandatory EU embargo was placed and lifted in May 2001 (2).
Small arms were authorized for Ethiopia from Germany in 1998 and major weapons imported from Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary, US (ex-US air force), Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, and Belarus (2). Major weapons were imported to Eritrea from China, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Bulgaria, and Russia (2). Militaries from both sides were trained by the US (17).
A French company attempted to transfer arms to Ethiopia via Belgium without a transit license (23). A Belgium arms broker, basing himself in South Africa, was purchasing weapons from Eastern European countries and selling them onto African countries including Ethiopia (24). There were allegations that weapons originating in Russia violated the UN embargo on both countries and that weapons originating in France violated the Ethiopian embargo (3).
Conflict between the Tutsis (15%) and Hutus (80%) was longstanding. The deaths of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi in a plane crash in 1994 sparked a Hutu uprising. The genocide that followed claimed 800,000 lives, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. After the genocide 2 million largely Hutus fled into neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and DRC. Members of the militia that perpetrated the genocide remained in DRC and formed armed factions. Most refugees returned to Rwanda which, despite substantial international assistance and political reforms, continues to suffer.
In 1997, to stop incursions from DRC by ex-Rwandan armed factions, Rwanda allied with Uganda and DRC rebel groups to oust Mobutu (25). This led to better mineral mining deals for US companies (17). Kabila came to power but Rwandan armed factions remained in the DRC and stepped up their incursions into Rwanda. In August 1998, Rwandan and Ugandan forces entered the DRC to support a new rebel movement against Kabila. (See DRC above).
A mandatory UN embargo (918) was established in 1994, suspended in 1995, and ceased in 1996. In 1995, a mandatory UN embargo (1011) on arms to Rwandan rebels, including arms for neighboring countries if they were for use in Rwanda, was established (2). Rwanda was authorized to receive small arms from South Africa and major weapons were imported from South Africa, France, Egypt, Russia, Slovakia, and Belarus.After the 1994 genocide, US provided $75 million (£47.4 million, €74.2 million) of emergency military assistance (26) and $324,000 (£297,663, €324.971) in arms transfers (17).
In violation of the UN embargo on the rebels (UN 1011) weapons allegedly originated from Eastern Bloc countries, China, France, Israel, Italy, Libya, Russia, Seychelles, and South Africa. Nationals from UK, US, South Africa, and Belgium allegedly violated the embargo (3).
Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Niger, Kenya, Ghana, and DRC were also allegedly implicated in violating the embargo. For these latter African countries, the US, UK, South Africa, France, Ireland, Canada, Denmark, and Germany authorized the sale of small arms while US, UK, South Africa, Italy, Spain, and Eastern Bloc countries delivered major weapons to them.
Antagonism between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has persisted since partition in 1947 and continues. There have been no arms embargoes but years of sanctions have resulted in Pakistan manufacturing its own weapons. Licences to do so were provided by UK, Italy, France, China, and Slovakia.
Authorized supplies of small arms (in bold) and major weapons (in italics) for both India and Pakistan are shown below.
• To Pakistan – from UK, US, South Africa, Germany, Canada UK, Russia China, France Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine, Lebanon
• To India – from UK, US, Germany, Canada / Russia, South Africa, UK, Italy, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan
UK, Russia, France, Germany, and Italy failed to back the US in placing economic embargoes on India in 1998 after India tested nuclear arms (27). Arms to both sides of this conflict were authorized by or supplied from UK, US, Germany and Russia (28) despite 1 million troops dug-in on the Pakistan-Indian border and the threat of nuclear war (29).
Pakistan has the greatest number of guns per capita in the world. From 1950 to1996, the US government donated to Pakistan surplus small arms (118,640 weapons) (30).
After independence in 1962, the reign of Idi Amin (1971-1979) resulted in 300,000 deaths. President Museveni from 1986 has brought stability (25, 31).
During the 1990s Uganda was and remains now in conflict with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) (32), a group of extremely brutal paramilitaries based in Sudan which has regularly raided Uganda and kidnapped boys and girls to indoctrinate into serving their armed activities. Uganda has also been involved in the conflict in DRC (see above).
There were no embargoes on arms to Uganda. Small arms to Uganda were authorized by US, UK, and South Africa and major weapons imported from South Africa, Belarus, Bulgaria, Poland, and Ukraine (2). was authorized small arms by the UK and received major weapons from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, China, and Kyrgyzstan.
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