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Accepted Paper:

Arms control as development cooperation? Political economy insights from Nigeria.  
Matthias Schwarz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF))

Paper short abstract:

The paper argues that externally induced arms control projects can foster the militarization of development by legitimizing and expanding the capacities of security institutions. It draws on interdisciplinary political economy theory and is based on interviews and field research in Nigeria.

Paper long abstract:

Weapons are a central tool to both enable and undermine state control. As a result, arms control measures to foster the ‘good governance’ of weapons within states have increasingly become a focus of donor-recipient cooperation. This applies to Nigeria in particular, where a multitude of externally funded and internally launched projects promise to unfold a transformative influence on security institutions. Accordingly, development cooperation projects in the field of arms control are dominated by technical capacity-building measures. This follows the rationale that arms control can pave the way for more stable societies and thus promote development. In this context, security institutions function as both executing agencies of arms control as well as institutions that are to be transformed by arms control. However, such a view depoliticises the respective institutions by disregarding their social and historical configuration. Against this background, the paper argues that legitimizing and extending capacities of security institutions in the name of development bears specific pitfalls. It finds that these institutions, or more specifically their implementing bureaucrats, have a strong influence on whether the control over the means of violence fosters social power relations that undermine egalitarian development. Hence, the transition dynamics of security institutions seem less guided by linear causal transformation but more by an ongoing competition over goals and competencies. The proclaimed positive effects of arms control on stability and development can therefore be undermined by a militarization of these very goals; a process that is externally supported when common interests are perceived. The analysis draws on interdisciplinary political economy theory and is based on interviews with national and international arms control implementers as well as field research in Nigeria. It unites the study of the goals and practice of externally-induced arms control projects with the governance of weapons and implementation practice within its socio-political context.

Panel Anth36
African futures and the new boundaries of the anthropology of development and social change
  Session 2 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -