Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol 16, No 2 (2001)

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Legal to Illegal: Southeast Asia's Illegal Arms Trade

Katherine Kramer

Abstract


Southeast Asia is a region beset with instability, communal and social violence II and insurgency. Fueling this volatile state of affairs is a thriving illegal arms trade with Thailand as major arms source and transit route. The bulk of the arms sold on the black market come from legal sources, either from government arsenals or commercial traders. Unlicensed arms trade and/or production also take place in Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. Insurgents produce their own landmines, as in the case of Burma and the Philippines. The
system of transforming legal arms to illegal ones is difficult to counter due to the institutionalized involvement of the military, the police and customs officials. Interested parties need only to bribe their way into the system. Countries must resolve conflict within the region in order to slow down the demand from both government and non-government forces for arms.

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