James Bevan
Weapon specialist and conflict analyst
James Bevan
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The Karimojong, Northeastern Uganda 2006-2007

In 2006 and 2007 the population of Karamoja suffered not only intense armed violence among its pastoralist communities, but also cross-border raiding from groups in neighbouring countries and an aggressive policy of forcible disarmament by the Government of Uganda.

I traveled to Karamoja in 2006 to conduct a relatively large-scale assessment of the distribution and impact of armed violence in the region, funded by the Canadian and British governments and the United Nations Development Programme. This research was published by the Small Arms Survey in early 2008 in the book 'Crisis in Karamoja: Armed Violence and the Failure of Disarmament in Uganda's Most Deprived Region.'

Whilst in Karamoja, I also had the opportunity to stay, for relatively long periods of time, among some of the warring Karimojong communities. After building sufficient trust, several groups of fighters allowed me to inspect their weapons and ammunition, which I was later able to trace back to the point of manufacture and, ultimately, to identify how they had entered the region.

My most significant finding was a serious problem in the management of weapons and ammunition by Ugandan Security forces, which led to their diversion onto the illicit markets of the region and their use in armed conflict. I published these findings in the 2007 Small Arms Survey Yearbook, which later fed into the regional study 'Blowback: Kenya's ammunition problem in Turkana North.'

The findings from Karamoja have contributed to a larger and evolving debate on the susceptibility of pastoralist communities to armed violence. My report, 'Armed Violence in African Pastrolist Communities,' which was published by the United Nations Development Programme, was one of the first to bring this issue into a diplomatic armed violence reduction process.

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James Bevan
James Bevan