Small Wars, Small Arms, Big Graft ; This Week UN Meets to Staunch Global Flow of Illegal Weapons. Traffickers Profit Increasingly in Small Conflicts

By Howard LaFranchi writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Small Wars, Small Arms, Big Graft ; This Week UN Meets to Staunch Global Flow of Illegal Weapons. Traffickers Profit Increasingly in Small Conflicts


Howard LaFranchi writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


The indictment of former Argentine President Carlos Menem last week, on charges of illegally selling $100 million worth of light arms and explosives, is but the latest sign of an ominous post- cold war trend: The booming business in small-scale conflicts has become a major source of corruption.

About half of all the weapons - assault rifles, mortars, and grenades - supplied to civil wars from Sierra Leone to Chechnya are from illegal sources, says a UN report. (Swiss lead effort to track arms, page 9.)

Increasingly global mafias work in association with high-level officials and pay huge fees in exchange for the legitimacy the officials offer.

"It's not politically correct any more for governments to be selling arms to regions in conflict, so the selling has to go underground," says Tamar Gobelnick, director of the arms sales monitoring project at the Federation of American Scientists.

That's what prosecutors allege happened in a scheme to illegally sell weapons from Argentina to Croatia and later to Ecuador during Mr. Menem's first presidential term, between 1990 and 1995. It's also just one of the charges facing ex-Peruvian intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, accused of creating a pipeline of arms - from Eastern Europe and involving Middle Eastern military contacts - that ended up in Colombia's civil conflict.

Corruption in arms sales is also being investigated in South Africa, where $5.5 billion in arms procurement under the ruling African National Congress allegedly resulted in widespread wrongdoing, including kickbacks and favorable contracting with family members of ANC leaders.

Diplomats and weaponsmakers are meeting at the United Nations for the next two weeks to regulate arms brokers and push for a system to trace the movement of light weapons.

The South African case is an example of the kind of corruption that has long affected government arms procurement. But while such cases continue to pose a threat globally, international corruption experts say the most troubling growth area in dirty arms sales results from small regional conflicts, often under international arms-supply embargo, with underworld organizations supplying arms.

"The supplying of arms to smaller wars ... is where there's the greatest growth in arms sales corruption," says Laurence Cockroft, chairman of the London chapter of Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption watchdog organization in Washington.

According to Mr. Cockroft, the largest sums of corruption money in arms deals tend to be in traditional arms procurement such as in the South Africa case. This is also where TI traditionally focuses its efforts, he says. But he adds that research from the World Bank and other institutions is shedding light on smaller-scale arms purchasing.

Often sought to fight "small" conflicts, the purchases sometimes involve middlemen connected to international drug and money- laundering rings. Such purchasing is exacting a mounting toll on developing countries, such as Angola.

The Argentine case, one of the more complex - the court file so far runs more than 20,000 pages - involves a long trail of officials and middlemen of various Latin American and European nationalities. The arms were sold with "certificates of final use" issued for Panama, Venezuela, and Bolivia - the certificates being the magic passes that governments control but that middlemen need to give arms shipments legitimacy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Small Wars, Small Arms, Big Graft ; This Week UN Meets to Staunch Global Flow of Illegal Weapons. Traffickers Profit Increasingly in Small Conflicts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.