Guns are at the heart of the ever-changing nature of conflict and warfare. Shrinking borders and increasing connectivity lead to new ethical dilemmas in arms and armor. This paper uses the principle of jus Commercialium Armis – Arms trade only, to highlight the ethical issues related to arms and arms trade, especially in conflict areas. Weapons and armaments can be divided into conventional and unconventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) (Joenniemi, 1976). This paper focuses on “Small Arms and Light Weapons”. – a subclass of conventional weapons. SALWs consist of three main sub-divisions: small arms, light weapons, and ammunition and explosives (Kumar, 2008). Their characteristics make them the first choice for states in combat and explain their ubiquitous presence in any conflict. Their inexpensive, easy use and maintenance, increased efficiency and lethality, portability and concealability make them popular not only with state actors but also with non-state actors. These properties present an ethical dilemma as to whether or not their trade is morally justified – something that this paper aims to explore. Before we get into this question, the paper will first explain the importance of the arms trade, how it works at different levels of analysis, followed by the purpose and methods by which it is practiced. Later, a case study on the civil war in the Central African Republic examines the arms trade from political, economic and legal points of view as well as from various theoretical concepts. In summary, through these arguments, the paper will build on the complex and contextual nature of the principle of jus Commercialium Armisthat seeks to theorize it.
The arms trade cannot be seen as universal or as something that exists in a similar form or shape everywhere. Rather, it can be viewed using three levels of analysis; H. The individual, the interstate or subsystemic, and the systemic (Singer, 1961). The only one The analysis level deals with trade within the sovereign borders of a state. The internal actors involved here include the national and state police and local private military contractors (PMCs). The subsystem level deals with trade between a few states or non-states Actor. Rebels, terrorist outfits, and international PMCs are also included in the list of these external actors. However, trades among them are generally very covert or “hush trades”. Finally, the systemic level includes the arms trade between regional and international multilateral organizations and alliances such as the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, etc. Police procurement of arms brings with it its own problems, brutality the police, racial exploitation and some kind of war against the lower class (Daryl, 2006). Arms trafficking in private individuals, PMCs and mercenaries raises concerns about increasing street gang violence, crime (LaFollette, 2000), privatization of war and guilt (Machairas, 2014). Similarly, there are other concerns related to the arms trade with outside actors. The monopoly of certain states over arms trafficking and corruption (Kapstein, 1994) means that a similar technology ends with all parties, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between “allies” and “opponents”.
This categorization is important for understanding the arms trade, as each of these areas, especially with external actors, is associated with a different degree of legitimacy. The ethical majority arguments are based on the idea of legitimacy of the actors involved. Legitimacy seems to coexist with the idea of intimacy, home, familiarity and the way in which they shape the state or individual identity (Bulley, 2010). The other is viewed as illegitimate, regardless of the (possibly legitimate) context in which they are embedded. Hence, the legitimacy of certain actors is biased accredited so that categorization is required to understand different areas of the arms trade.
The purposes of the arms trade vary significantly by level. While at the first level the arms trade is largely justified on the pretext of national security, trade abroad looks different. Aside from being the main driver behind the arms trade, conflict can be addressed in a utilitarian way or a deontological one Path. The utilitarian approach builds on the two concepts of dependence and deterrence. States can indulge in the arms trade to make their buyers more dependent on them, while deceiving buyers into believing in the misconceptions of power and political influence that appear to accompany them. These weak points can then manifest themselves in political or other gains. Military dependency can also be reflected in cultural, linguistic and ethnic support for the supplier country. However, such an agenda must be read between the lines. States can supply weapons to prevent conflict in a particular region and to create more peace and stability (Vox, 2018). The Just War Theory (Asad, 2009) can be optimized to justify the arms trade with external rebel groups waging a “just war” as it is in line with the R2P of the supplier countries (Pattison, 2015). The decision to call an armed rebellion “just”, however, is enough to make this argument a problem. In addition, the deontological approach claims that the arms trade is wrong with any kind of rebellion. It is argued, however, that states inherently have the right to defend themselves for which the arms trade is warranted, even though this prohibits their resale to “oppressive regimes” or rebel groups who overthrow them, even if it does better protection of their own citizens would ensure (Christensen, 2015). However, this argument neglects the fact that poorer economies would then not have access to defense due to the lack of affordability of weapons. This briefly describes the conflicting purposes of the arms trade and their justifications at different levels.
Where is the arms fair?
The arms trade processes are important to understand jus Commercialium Armis. Weapons are seen as the materialization of state capabilities. The power-bound libido leads to a strong craving for weapons and the immense degree of satisfaction that comes with possessing them. That is fetishization of weapons. The desire for arms, fueled by conflict, hunger for money, power, and political affinity, leads to a competitive arms race. This makes the arms trade seem like a fair where interested parties buy the weapons of their choice secretly and not secretly and can be “entertained” by their live shows.
Intra-national arms movements usually involve a simple transfer of ownership between trading parties (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019). When it comes to internationalization, however, things get more complicated. States often trade arms through intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) and formal diplomatic procurement procedures. These contracts are often made in advance and the guns are tailored as per the buyer’s requirements. States could also “trade” the number of troops and weapons at the systemic level. Doing business with illegitimate non-state actors such as rebels and terrorists takes place as “business in silence”. This includes cross-border arms smuggling via illegal gray and black market channels (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019), as explained later in the publication. Popular culture shows that PMCs and private arms manufacturers hold literal “arms fairs” to sell their products. Despite the lack of sufficient evidence, this possibility cannot be denied. The diversity in the manner in which the arms trade is carried out therefore nuances the principle of further jus Commercialium Armis.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a small landlocked country in the heart of the African continent. It has rich reserves of gold, diamonds and wood (In a civil war, most people have never heard of it 2017). In 1960 it gained independence from France. Since then, it has had a tumultuous past marked by bloodshed and several military coups. The nature of the conflict in the region was rather mixed. The most recent and ongoing civil war broke out in late 2012 with the new Séléka group began to overthrow the northern and central CAR. They overthrew President Bozize’s government in March 2013, and Séléka leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in as president in August of this year (Profile of the Central African Republic – Timeline 2018). Djotodia suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament of the Central African Republic, which led to a “complete breakdown of law and order,” as the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (Profile of the Central African Republic – Timeline 2018) exclaimed. In October 2013, the UN Security Council approved the deployment of the UN peacekeeping forces (UNPKF) to support the AU and French troops already on the ground. Djotodia resigned in January 2014 for criticizing his inability to control sectarian violence among rivals. The Muslim Séléka and the Christian anti-balaka troops agreed on ceasefire talks in July 2014. The United Nations launched a MINUSCA peacekeeping mission, (CFR, 2020) Deployment of more troops in the Central African Republic alongside the French. It only got worse, however.
With all of the bloodshed, there have been multiple atrocities and crimes against humanity in the area. The armed groups together controlled about 70 percent of the CAR (HRW, 2019). The UN accused the anti-Balaka group that ethnic cleansing and kidnappings by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) had increased significantly. Sexual violence is used as a weapon against women and children from the other sectors in order to take action against the opponents again (HRW, 2020). There are approximately 2.9 million people in need of humanitarian aid and 581,362 civilians estimated to be internally displaced (CFR, 2020). CAR ranked 188th out of 189 countries for life expectancy, income and education (An escalating crisis in the Central African Republic 2019). In 2015, France conducted an investigation into alleged child abuse by French soldiers deployed in the region to protect civilians (Central African Republic Profile – 2018 timeline). In one incident, large numbers of innocent civilians manipulated and armed by militants were killed in a confrontation with the UNPKF (Kokopakpa, 2018). These reflect, among hundreds of others, the dire state in which Central African Republic citizens live. Humanity is being pushed to the extreme. The protectors of the country become the perpetrators of countless terrible crimes themselves. This shows the pathetic situations and apathetic approach of governments and organizations to the real impact and human cost of the conflict.
The war and atrocities are fueled by the arms trade in this region. Such trading may not appear ethical. However, it can be turned over. Things could go worse without police work and foreign intervention. For example, following the withdrawal of the Ugandan armed forces, which fought the LRA for almost five years, there was a sudden surge in violence in April 2017, in which several UNPKF workers were killed and attacks were carried out on convoys and bases (Profile of the Central African Republic – Timeline 2018)). Hence, a constant flow of arms to resist the violent rebel groups might now sound morally permissible. However, the rebels’ procurement of similar weapons technology makes ethical trade difficult. Despite numerous arms embargoes, rebel groups and other non-state actors obtain advanced weapons through various illegal gray and black market channels (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019), “ant trade”. ((Illegal trafficking 2018) and corrupt state actors. In 2013, Sudan provided the new government of Séléka with military aid like previous governments. Weapons of Chinese and possibly Iranian origin have also been transferred to the Séléka government via Sudan, although this is a direct violation of the Chinese end-user agreement. It is believed that the anti-Balaka rebels were armed with Spanish, Italian and Cameroonian weapons (Non-state armed groups in the Central African Republic 2015). In December 2017, Russia applied for permission from the United Nations to deliver weapons to the Central African Republic for “peaceful purposes” despite the embargo. However, it was viewed as a Russian attempt to bolster the existing multi-billion dollar arms trade with Africa (WPR, 2018). China and the US have also made military vehicles and weapons available to the Central African Republic government to enhance their military capabilities and use them for humanitarian purposes (Kelly, 2019). However, it should be remembered that the government is formed by a rebel group. The weapons described are along with the thousands of troops already stationed in the Central African Republic. The ubiquity of the tiered arms trade makes CAR a perfect case study for analyzing various theoretical concepts and the principle of jus Commercialium Armis from an empirical lens.
The truth of Jus Commercium Armis
The principle of jus Commercialium Armis cannot be considered a monolithic binary of right or wrong. Arms trade is a complicated system. The earlier parts of the paper describe certain ethical approaches to certain aspects of the arms trade. Now the arms trade as a whole will be the focus. Given the civil war in the Central African Republic, the arms trade can be viewed from a political, economic and legal perspective.
Weapons are seen as a material manifestation of the capabilities of the state and are therefore synonymous with power. This is a very one-dimensional view of power politics as a coercive strategy (Lukes, 2005). However, this is not the case. With considerable dominance over arms trade and supply, states exercise multidimensional power politics. Two-dimensional political power can be exercised with weapons and make the others formulate guidelines favorable to the supplier. In addition, the support of rebel groups in the formation of a new government through the arms trade could lead to the creation of a soft corner with the supplier state. This finally realizes the power of the third dimension. In considering the politics of the arms trade, its influence on the administration of bodies must not be forgotten. The arms trade supports thanato politics by providing certain weapons. It enables the creation of killable bodies based on their “different” ethnicity, religion or political affiliation (Joronen, 2016). The submission of the lives of the citizens of the Central African Republic to power and death by arms opens the ground for necropolitics. Necropolitics brings certain bodies closer to death in different ways. Incidents such as the manipulation and arming of innocent civilians give them the status of “living dead” – living bodies that are treated like disposable corpses. At constant risk of death, CAR nationals constantly live on the fringes (Mbembé and Meintjes, 2003). On the contrary, notions of biopolitics also seem to flow from the arms trade (Joronen, 2016). The presence of weapons with the “right” authority ensures the lives of civilians and helps them to get out of this chaos. Therefore, the political view of the arms trade can in no way be viewed as monochromatic.
The economic point of view of the arms trade points in the direction of the marketing of arms. The fetishization of weapons creates a whole arms economy that is ruled by market forces. This indicates a shift towards neo-liberal ideas of globalization, privatization and the financialization of weapons. Like all other trading markets, arms trading markets can be viewed in terms of supply and demand. Suppliers intuitively dictate the market when there is excessive demand and vice versa. However, when suppliers are faced with a lack of demand, they can fuel dormant conflict to stimulate demand (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019). The offer takes care of the manufacture and sale of weapons without moving them from “legal” to “illegal”. This shady work is often liked by notorious private traders and “rogue states” (Schroeder et al., 2006). The demand for weapons is motivated by various obvious factors like money, hard power, influence, etc. Factors like “patriotismConflict mentality and gun culture”Also have a significant impact on the arms demand and supply chains (J. Arsovska et al., 1970).
Nevertheless, this neoliberal market model can easily be problematized. Defense is a classic example of a public good that the state must make available to all citizens (P. Levine et al., 1997). The privatization of this responsibility carries the potential risk of exclusion, marginalization of certain communities, and increased precariousness of life. In addition, this denies the poorer states that cannot afford to participate in such elite markets their right to security. This often results in obsolete weapons technology being dumped at low rates in such states, thereby jeopardizing their security. The beauty of this neoliberal framework lies in the fact that it tries to solve this problem by advocating foreign direct investment in the military infrastructure to make states independent. However, it remains unclear how poor, conflict-ridden states like the Central African Republic fit into this model, in which even the basic needs for survival are not guaranteed. Therefore, jus Commercialium Armis might apply when talking about ethical gun use (which is very problematic in itself) in legitimate markets, although it fades when markets become partisan to certain states and societies.
Several legal frameworks regulate and limit the arms trade and spread at national and international level, with a focus on non-state actors. States have different national arms control and arms trade laws. At the international level, the arms trade treaty (ATT) (United Nations, 2013) is seen as a milestone for better regulation and elimination of the illicit arms trade. Other framework conditions such as international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention lay down guidelines for conduct and participation for PMCs in armed conflicts. Several arms embargoes are imposed by various nations and bodies such as the UN in conflict regions. Recently on 28th In July 2020, the United Nations unanimously extended the sanctions and arms embargoes against the Central African Republic until July 31st August 2021 (United Nations Security Council, 2020). Despite extensive laws, the line between legal and illegal trade is difficult to draw. These laws are hundreds of pages long and contain simple details and exceptions. They can be circumvented by governments or non-state actors, creating gray markets. Weapons traded here are often referred to as “misplaced, lost or forgotten” (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019). Black markets clearly violate international laws and trade in illegally procured weapons without government consent in various ways (The Illicit Market in Firearms 2019) (Jackson, 2010). In addition, non-state actors such as PMCs are considered extrajudicial actors due to their rare, if not absent, mention in international conventions. The non-binding nature of international laws helps them evade any legal accountability for weapons. Even during mediation, the role of multilateral organizations is limited due to a lack of jurisdiction. In January 2015, the government of the Central African Republic rejected the ceasefire agreement between two militia groups simply because it was not at the table (Profile of the Central African Republic – Timeline 2018). In conflict-ridden regions, where there is almost a vacuum for state capacity, the situation is even worse. The reality could not be so bleak if state capacities could be improved and better domestic laws enforced. However, this remains a utopian idea, since the national governments formed in conflict regions are not legitimized.
When theorizing, appropriate categories are created. You will assign concepts and events to specific tailored categories to better explain them. Various categories are also used throughout this paper to illustrate and simplify the arms trade. Exclusions are created as an epiphenomenon for creating categories. The interaction between these exclusion zones and the categories reveals structural differences that are institutionalized and create asymmetrical hierarchies. These hierarchies create zones of need (Stump, 2020). In the context of the Central African Republic, neediness could be understood as the need for peace, stability and security. The exclusion zone, i.e. H. CAR, when it comes into contact with the free western world, leads to the creation of CAR as a zone of need. This need can only be met through ethical intervention in various forms including the arms trade. This confirms jus Commercialium Armis. However, the synthesis of categorical boundaries is embedded in the context in which they are created. Hence, it would be wrong to identify categories as universal.
Without categories, everything appears in border areas. Boundary spaces can be viewed as intermediate gray areas in which binary files are blurred in spectra (Perugini & Gordon, 2017). Since we are in border areas, more emphasis is placed on the contextual than on the absolute nature of things. This also applies to the embodiment of the arms trade (Wilcox, 2016). Arms can be embodied as tangible and affective terms. The trade in tangible weapons, which includes machines, personnel, technology, etc., is easy to pinpoint. The weapon and dissemination of affective ideas such as the emotional burden of conflict, sexual abuse, trauma, etc. is difficult to calculate and often goes unnoticed. Affective ideas are also seen as equivalent to the tangible embodiment of the poor in border areas. This is also because the affective embodiment of weapons is also heavily racialized and gender-specific, and the marginalized races and genders are over-represented. At the moment when different types of embodiment interact with the realistic and positivistic context, tangible empiricism is privileged over the affective concepts. This reinforces the complexity of the ethical theory of the arms trade.
In conclusion, using different levels at which the arms trade operates, different approaches to arms trade purposes and methods in the context of the Central African Republic, this paper examined how the ethics of the arms trade can be viewed for contrasting political reasons. economic, legal and theoretical aspects. After a thorough analysis of the situations and their association with theoretical concepts, it is argued that the concept of jus Commercialium Armis is very contextual. In the midst of the weapons abyss, it exists in a borderline space where each construction of the category embeds it in a context in which its truth or falsehood can be argued. Still, the paper provides a starting point for an exciting journey into researching the ethics of the arms trade.
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 Hiermit als “SALWs” oder “Waffen” bezeichnet.
 Kumar beschreibt “Kleinwaffen” als Waffen, die normalerweise von einer oder zwei Personen getragen werden können und Gewehre, Pistolen, Revolver, Maschinenpistolen (SMGs) usw. umfassen. Er verwendet den Begriff “leichte Waffen”, um schwerere Maschinengewehre, Handgranaten, Granatwerfer, Flugabwehr- oder Flugabwehrkanonen und Raketensysteme, Raketengranaten (RPGs) usw. zu bezeichnen. Munition und Sprengstoff umfassen Patronen und Granaten sowie Raketen für Kleinwaffen bzw. leichte Waffen.
 Zu den staatlichen Akteuren zählen Regierungen international anerkannter Staaten. Auf der anderen Seite beziehen sich nichtstaatliche Akteure auf einflussreiche Organisationen oder Einzelpersonen, die keinem Staat angeschlossen sind.
 Nach Singers Argumentation sieht die individuelle Analyseebene das individuelle Staatsoberhaupt als einen wichtigen Einflussfaktor für das staatliche Verhalten. Es geht insbesondere um das staatliche Verhalten, das von der politischen Denkweise des Staatsoberhauptes formuliert wird, das wiederum von persönlichen Faktoren oder der Innenpolitik innerhalb des Staates beeinflusst werden kann. Dieses Papier verwendet diese Definition und betrachtet die individuelle Analyseebene des Waffenhandels als den internen (Binnen-) Handel, der den größeren Standpunkt der Staaten zum Waffenhandel beeinflusst.
 Im Allgemeinen konzentriert sich die subsystemische Analyseebene nur auf zwei bis wenige staatliche Akteure. In der Diskussion um den Waffenhandel kann die Definition jedoch aufgrund ihrer bedeutenden Rolle auch auf nichtstaatliche Akteure ausgedehnt werden.
 In diesem Papier umfassen externe Akteure Akteure sowohl auf subsystemischer als auch auf systemischer Ebene von Analysen.
 Ein Akteur kann als legitim angesehen werden, wenn er die geltenden Regeln und Gesetze einhält. Legitimität beruht außerdem auf der Fähigkeit, die eigenen Handlungen oder Verhaltensweisen zu rechtfertigen.
 Utilitarismus oder Konsequentialismus ist ein Ansatz zur Rationalisierung, der von einem Philosophen Jeremy Bentham geprägt wurde. Es beurteilt Handlungen nach ihrem Nutzen oder ihrer Konsequenz. Einfach ausgedrückt, rechtfertigen die Ziele die Mittel. Aktionen für das größte Glück der größten Anzahl können durch diesen Ansatz gerechtfertigt werden.
 Die Deontologie ist eine Denkschule zur Annäherung an ethische Dilemmata, die von einem deutschen Philosophen Immanuel Kant geprägt wurden. It refers to a universalised approach to morals where anything wrong is wrong despite its outcomes or intentions. According to it, one can act morally only when they adhere to the universalised principles.
 Just War theory operates on two principles – jus ad bellum and jus in bello. These refer to just actions before going to war and just actions during war respectively. Each of these principles enumerate certain provisions that a state must refer to while planning to intervene or launch a war. They also act as a guide for states to have a just conduct when at war.
 R2P (Responsibility to Protect) is the moral responsibility of a state to protect citizens of any state against oppressive states which inflict violence and mass suffering and commit crimes against humanity.
 States contribute to the peacekeeping forces of international or regional organisations in varied capacities. This contribution can also be looked at as the “trade of personnel” on an international level because in the end, they are deployed in a particular state on peacekeeping missions.
 Séléka is an alliance of rebel militia groups that sought control over the CAR in March 2013 under the leadership of their leader Michel Djotodia. Members of this group are almost all Muslims.
 UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR.
 Ant-trade refers to the process where numerous small deliveries of arms that get accumulated overtime as illicit arms by unauthorised users.
 Steven Lukes in his book “Power: A Radical View” describes three-dimensional approaches of power. To simplify. The one-dimensional view sees power as coercive. Essentially state A exercises power over state B when it makes state B not do or do something that B would otherwise may or may not want to do. According to the two-dimensional view of power, A sets the agenda of discussion and does not give B the platform to bring up any conflicts it might have with A in any form. The third dimensional view of power is the structural form of power where B does not even realise that it has a conflict or a potential conflict with A.
 Power is politicised and used to achieve political motives and authority. This way, it translates into political power and hence is used interchangeably.
 Thanatopolitics is the management or governance of death which entails the sovereign right to kill by providing characteristic (often seen as pathological) justifications making certain bodies killable.
 Biopolitics is the governance of citizen lives and constantly improve the standards of living.
 Supply does not meet the demand causing prices to go up.
 Values and devotion to one’s own nation state which glorifies its possession of arms.
 Feeling of fear, hostility, insecurity and distrust that prevails in the minds of people after prolong conflict or socio-economic stresses.
 Notion of glory, attachment, power and pride attached to possession and use of arms.
 Foreign Direct Investments are investments made by a state into another state to uplift particular sectors of the economy of the other state.
 The idea of ethical consumption refers to the use of product that is righteous depending on how they are marketed. However, such an argument effaces the exploitative or immoral processes involved in its manufacturing or distribution.
 Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and came into force on 24 December 2014. It has been ratified by 109 states and further 32 states have signed, but not ratified it.
Written at: Ashoka University
Written for: Professor Ananya Sharma
Date written: August 2020
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