In realisation of the huge consequences of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the Economic Community of West African States acted upon an initiative by President Konare of Mali in 1993. On 31 October 1998 a Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons was signed and declared by 16 West African countries for a renewable period of three years. Now they had to begin the huge task of implementing this arrangement.
The leading theoretical framework for studying African regionalism today is New Regionalism Approach. This approach was presented by scientists such as Bjørn Hettne and Fredrik Söderbaum in the early 1990s. What this framework tries to do is to connect formal and informal regionalism and regionalisation. It takes into account those informal processes from below that are not the result of decisions made on the top. These processes involve common people trying to survive in a harsh environment of poverty and deprivation. New Regionalism Approach has also taken Transnationalism into account. Transnationalism is a very important aspect when it comes to arms transfers because most of the illegal trading is conducted by transnational networks. When studying West African politics one also has to take into account the characteristics of the African state. Among these characteristics are Neo-patrimonialism, its poor degree of institutionalisation, webs of patron-client relationships and the general weakness of the state. These aspects of the African state are also inherent in New Regionalism Approach, which was mainly built on African regionalism.
In this study I wanted to investigate whether the implementation of the Moratorium reflected these central aspects of New Regionalism Approach. It is not a study of the success or failure of the Moratorium. It is a study focusing on the degree to which the Moratorium and its implementation reflect the central aspects of the region described and presented by New Regionalism Approach.
My conclusion is that the implementation process does not reflect these aspects sufficiently. Areas such as the operations of illegal transnational networks, artisan production and the involvement of the state in transnational arms trade networks are ignored. ECOWAS has also adopted a top-down approach which is not coherent with the insights presented by New Regionalism Approach.