USAfrica: Follow the Weapons trade to understand, tackle migrant crises across Europe and Africa. By Elsie-Bernadette Onubogu


USAfrica: Follow the Weapons trade to understand, tackle migrant crises across Europe and Africa

By Elsie-Bernadette Onubogu, an International Consultant, former Senior Policy Adviser with the United Nations and contributing editor of

Special to,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at , and

Over the last couple of weeks, the migrant crisis in Europe continues to dominate the global media sphere, debates in many parliaments, policy forums (EU Commission), op-ed pages, speeches, and the coveted social media {aka Twitter, Facebook & Instagram}.  

The sudden interest and momentum, was heightened particularly by the sad, heart-wrenching photograph of the little 3 year-old Syrian boy – Aylan Kurdi, an intended migrant, whose life-less body washed up by the beach in Turkey.  

The outrage that this little boy’s life-less photo evoked around the world, is, sufficient reason to search for a long-term, sustainable solution to such crises. This grim human crisis should shock every human conscience to act irrespective of affiliation, prejudice or location.

This is why the recent call by the former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley urging the United States of America {a nation of immigrants}, to welcome at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 is reassuring.  In O’Malley’s words, “Americans are a generous and compassionate people. But today our policies are falling short of those values. We must do more to support Syrian refugees — and we must certainly welcome more than the proposed 5,000 to 8,000 refugees next year,”

Overall, a great number of narratives and discourse on the crisis seek to recommend ways to alleviate the situation of migrants, urging, pleading with governments in particular, the United Kingdom to reach out to the fleeing migrants and refugees – majority of whom are women and children.  Unfortunately, very often, little if not selective mention is made of the real and apparent root causes, triggers, drivers, and benefactors of such crisis.  The usual (and rightly so) guilt fingers are pointed to the insidious and reprobate regimes including Assad and others of his ilk!

Yes, such regimes deserve every condemnation and punishment possible! Yet, undeniably, the unaddressed truth is, that, consistently, our world is suffering as it continues to witness what is often explained or considered as leveraging of economic trade in arms, weapons (including WMD), minerals that fuel these crises.  Within the geopolitical realm and to an extent the so-called diplomatic world, this trade, is used as a strategy to wield both diplomatic, hegemonic, and I dare say, superiority power.  

This quest for hegemonic power is the real veil behind Aylan Kurdi’s death.   Therefore, if the world is serious about ending such crisis, it is time to lift the veil behind the crisis!  The world and all those who engage in sale and transfer of arms and weapons have a responsibility, not just a moral responsibility, but also, an altruistic responsibility to Aylan Kurdi!


In addressing the refugee situation and admonishing the UK’s near betrayal of its once proud history of helping the displaced, the head of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, surmised, that, “the only way to address the crisis is to deal with those who are fleeing Europe as well as those who have landed on Europe’s shores”.  David Miliband’s solution, only offers a humanitarian prism to the crisis and does not offer the full story neither does it offer adequate and long-term solution.  At best, it is tantamount to offering water to a person in hell rather than bringing the person out of hell.   

Elsie Onubogu

Elsie Onubogu

The inadequate humanitarian intervention is not the focus of this write-up.  The focus is how best to find long lasting and sustainable solution to the crisis.  Against this background, this writer is of the opinion, that any serious and honest attempt to solve and avoid future crisis, must, as of necessity and sustainability, look beyond the humanitarian and seek real transformation.  It must review the underlying causes, the triggers and drivers that fuel such crises.   To do otherwise, would only sustain the duplicitous treatment that so often threatens global geopolitics and negotiations at different fora.

In debating about the necessity or otherwise of the UN in the sixties, one of its finest Secretary-Generals – Dag Hammarskjold explained, “that the UNITED NATIONS was created, not to take humanity to heaven, rather, to save it from hell.  It is within this context therefore that this writer and others have come to reaffirm that in the realm of international public policy, the UN is responsible for lobbying and pushing for the “common-good”.  Such common good include checkmating the protection of human rights, trade negotiations, migration, and inhumanity meted against the most vulnerable.

The United Nation’s fair attempt to pierce the veil following years of diplomatic and not-so-diplomatic negotiations, resulted in the establishment of the Arms Trade Treaty {ATT}, which came into force on December 24, 2014.   The treaty among other things laid the foundations of a global framework of arms transfer controls, including for small arms and light weapons and ammunition – popularly referred to as SALW.   Such norm is expected to regulate human affairs, in particular, the sale, movement and transfer of arms and weapons to ensure that it is not used to terrorize people – in a nutshell, human relations.  This is why, the sad death of Aylan Kurdi, makes ATT apropos.  


One of the major positions of the ATT is the requirement that “All STATE PARTIES” must ensure that their arms exports will not be used, for instance, to violate arms embargoes, fuel conflict, facilitate terrorism or engage in serious violation of international human rights or humanitarian law {Art. 6&7}.


The language and expectation that STATES PARTIES can ensure their arms/weapons exports will not be used for violation, is fraught with the level of vagueness, rhetoric and diplomatic correctness that reinforces the duplicity and toothless-ness, which, sometimes threatens the relevance of the UN.


Whether it is plausible to ensure the above provision is highly debatable.  However, what is not in question, is the fact, that, the international community including countries, do in fact, acknowledge that the sale, transfer and export of these arms, weapons do have a casual link to conflicts, wars and other terrorist activities that result in human violations such as the current migrant crisis in Europe.  Who will pierce the veil; who will follow the weapon? Who will save future Aylan Kurdi?

Beyond the challenge of duplicity aforementioned, what is also frustrating and worth mentioning, is the ‘sense of deja-vu’, due in part, by the pretense of the underlying benefactors from these crises – under the guise of economic trade and the lack of collective action by the international community.  That is why the recent report from and for UNHCR’s 2015 December meeting, calling for a review of the role of conflict minerals as a root cause for conflicts in Sudan, DRC and elsewhere, though laudable, might well be another global baptism – a trademark of the UN and its agencies.     

One must recall that nearly a decade ago, even Hollywood {Leonardo Di Caprio et al} recorded ‘Blood Diamonds’, a trailer – a peek into how conflict diamonds fuelled the war in Sierra Leone.  Indeed, a few years before the movie, international activism from groups including “GLOBAL WITNESS”, gave rise to what is known as the “Kimberley Process Certification Scheme” (KPCS) – process established in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report. The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.”


The effectiveness of the Kimberly Process laid down in 2003 is best determined by the continuing crisis in the DRC, South Sudan, Somali and elsewhere.  Subsequently, the relapse of so many conflicts beggars belief and indeed, continues the question, have we learnt any lessons? Or perhaps in the typical multilateral lingo, what are the ‘lessons learned’, best described by Oseloka Obaze as a value-laden argot, in his article, “If you break it, you own it’. Obaze served as UN Senior Political Adviser & former Secretary to Anambra State Government, Nigeria.

That article, a masterpiece, clearly revealed the angle and apportionment of guilt rarely explored by those engaged in addressing the crisis plaguing the international community.  It outlines the apparent choice of omission and commission, hence, the phrase, ‘if you break it, you own it’.  It is time for those who make, sell, export, import and transfer arms and weapons including WMD to own up the totality of its consequences – whether intended or not.  

With the entry into force of the ATT in 2014, its provisions particularly the paragraph on STATES PARTIES’s responsibility, with Aylan Kurdi’s untimely death, the world, owes Aylan Kurdi a duty, a responsibility to protect.  It is time for the world to walk the talk, enforce the ATT and pierce the arms/weapons veil.   

In the final analysis, if the world, governments, the international community and other stakeholders are serious about ending such crises, we must lift the veil and follow the money.  As Dag Hammarskjold enjoined, the world doesn’t need to take little Aylan Kurdi to heaven, but we have a duty to save him from going to hell.  



Boko Haram: SkyNews London interview wt USAfrica Publisher Dr. Chido Nwangwu on BOKO HARAM vs BUHARI (Nigeria’s President inaugurated May 29, 2015). Interview on May 30 (Houston) May 31 (London) 2015


VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public POLICY networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira.  

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship HOLD lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and CONSEQUENCE to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”
He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being CLOSE to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown UNIVERSITY in Providence, Rhode Island.“I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that HISTORIC Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief EXECUTIVE of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when PRESIDENT BILL Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and CAME to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia 
specialist and founder of, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela.

  Dr. Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (GOVERNANCESECURITY, and PEACE in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown UNIVERSITY in Rhode Island and former ADVISER on Africa business/issues to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the INTERNET; CLASSmagazine,, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of AfricanChristians, Nigeria360 and the largest pictorial events megasite on the African diaspora www.PhotoWorks.TV . He was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans.   E-MAIL:


#BreakingNews and special reports unit of USAfrica multimedia networks, and USAfricaTV

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