[Light Weapons & Civil Conflict: Controlling the Tools of Violence]

Article excerpt

LIGHT WEAPONS AND CIVIL CONFLICT

Controlling the Tools of Violence

Edited by Jeffrey Boutwell and Michael Klare

Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999, xii, 262pp, US$65.00

cloth, US$22.95 paper, ISBN 0-8476-9484-4/0-8476-9485-2

Light Weapons and Civil Conflict is a sequel to 1995's Lethal Commerce. Both are collections of essays, and together they aim to raise the awareness of the problems of small arms and light weapons, while contributing to the analysis of and solutions to those problems. In Light Weapons and Civil Conflict, Boutwell and Klare provide a collection of 14 essays which 'surveys the wide range of policy options open to the international community' in order to assess 'the feasibility of various types of instruments for controlling the trade in small arms and light weapons' (p 3). The international community needs such policy options, the editors argue, because small arms and light weapons are the means by which the growing numbers of brutal civil conflicts are waged.

Taken on its own terms, the volume is broadly successful. The success stems largely from the mix of approaches to the problem. The chapters examine efforts to control small arms in a number of regional contexts, various efforts to control supply, international collaborative programmes, and finally the links between arms and social development. Such a catholic approach allows the volume to begin to capture some of the complexity involved in issues of light weapons - perhaps best reflected in the section which joins an essay on United Nations activities with another on transnational policing. The various windows taken to the issues, combined with a mix of professional scholars and professional practitioners, make for an uneven delivery of the overall assessment of policy measures. …

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