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Saferworld was founded in 1989 as "an independent non-governmental organisation that works to prevent and reduce violent conflict and promote cooperative approaches to security".[1] The organisation has access to, and more than cordial relations with, the UK government and has had meetings with Margaret Beckett and Jack Straw. Its former director was Paul Eavis MBE. David de Beer was appointed director in 2006.[2]

Saferworld's closeness to government is indicative of its status. For instance its Annual Review of 2004-05 states it has 'worked with the British Embassy to support the Ukrainian Government on transparency and export controls' and has worked with "international institutions such as the National Criminal Intelligence Service in the UK, the FBI, EUROPOL, UNDP and the OSCE".[3] In their work 'with Tamil communities' in Sri Lanka,

Over the year, Saferworld held a number of meetings with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to discuss the Sri Lankan security sector and introduce Saferworld’s work in the area of community-based policing. The IGP identified areas that the Sri Lankan police would like Saferworld to support, including helping to develop an action plan and police training on community-based policing.[4]

The organisation's stated areas of activity involves assisting governments in their national, regional and international initiatives aimed at tackling the "spread of arms and armed violence". It works with law enforcement agencies in "security sector reform" and "access to justice strategies". It also tries to make organisations engaged in 'development frameworks' aware of the risks of conflict. It tries to 'build the capacity of governments, law enforcement agencies, sub-regional organisations and civil society to tackle armed violence.' And to 'improve the effectiveness of the international system to pursue coherent and integrated approaches to development and security.'[5] Their target groups are Government officials, Civil society organisations, Police officers, Staff from donor agencies, Staff from the UN, international and regional organisations, Journalists and Parliamentarians.


Saferworld works closely with International Alert and to a lesser extent with a number of other organisations including Oxfam, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and the Arias Foundation (to build support for a new global treaty regulating arms transfers). Other partners include PeaceNet, SaferAfrica, the PIR Centre (Moscow), CIPDD (Georgia), Centre for Conflict Resolution (in Darfur), UN Staff College and the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, International Peace Academy. Center for Defence Information (USA), Transparency International, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, International Institute of Strategic Studies, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Campaign Against the Arms Trade.[6]

They also work with the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and the Oxford Research Group,[7] and, 1n 2004, jointly published 'Escaping the Subsidy Trap: why arms exports are bad for Britain'. Saferworld worked with the UK Cabinet Office on the development of a new report published by the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, 'Investing in Prevention' and also in 2004 Saferworld and the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) were commissioned to produce a joint paper on the problems of arms proliferation that formed part of the Strategy Unit report.[8]

Saferworld co-authored a report drawing attention to the UK government's granting of arms export licences to countries known for their human rights abuses. Amnesty International commented on this report as follows:

A recent report on the Government’s arms export policy by Saferworld and the Institute of Public Policy Research draws attention to further areas of concern. In particular, it draws attention to the granting of wide-ranging open arms export licences to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. That open licences should be granted with respect to such countries is disquieting. Amnesty International is concerned that the government has presided over a marked increase in the use of open licensing, contrary to the recommendations set out in the Scott Report.[9]

However, Saferworld's agenda in some ways mirrors that of the UK government[10]. It follows their and the UN's initiatives and gains their funding (see "Funders", below).

Saferworld's view is that the illicit trade in light weapons is associated with criminal activities, such as terrorism, money laundering, and the trafficking of drugs and other black-market commodities.[11] They are, but light weapons are also supplied by intelligence services and private mercenary companies working in cooperation with governments. Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, Head of Research & Advocacy at the Centre for Democracy & Development, London, reports:

Foreign powers, particularly the US and France, continue to be actively involved in Africa, sustaining pliant leaders and protecting their transnational oil companies and other economic interests. They have done so by training and equipping the armies of their allies through their intelligence services and private military companies. In the wars that have ravaged Rwanda and the DRC since 1996, African-American mercenaries and the private security firm with strong links to US power structures, Brown & Root, have been supporting Rwandan and Ugandan war efforts with sophisticated weaponry that has included helicopter gunships fitted with 105 mm cannons, rockets, machine guns, landmine ejectors and infrared sensors (Madsen: 2001). The well-connected US private military company, Military Professional Resources Inc., has led America’s train and equip programmes in Nigeria and Angola, primarily to pacify the oil enclaves in these countries.[12]

The free market rules the international arms trade and countries like the UK enrich themselves from it.


Funders listed on the Saferworld website in 2009[13] are:

  • European Commission:
Delegation of the European Commission to Kenya - Somalia Unit | Delegation of the European Commission to Russia - TACIS programme | The European Commission - CARDS programme and Initiative for Peace (Conflict Prevention Network)
  • Governments:
British High Commission, Bangladesh | British High Commission, Sri Lanka | Department for International Development (DfID) - Civil Society Challenge Fund and the Conflict and Humanitarian Fund | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgium | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands | Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland | Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) | The UK Government's Global Conflict Prevention Pool
  • Trusts:
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust | Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation
  • United Nations:
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Serbia



Saferworld’s Board of Trustees

  • Godfrey Allen: Chief Executive, Apex Trust [2] which includes The Rt Hon Lord Merlyn-Rees, Project Fullemploy [3] (both of which work with the government and business) and Chairmanship of South Thames College, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Institute of Directors and the Chartered Institute of Management. Allen began his career in 1980 as a race equality officer in Southall. Also serves as an Inner London Magistrate.
  • Malcolm Chalmers (Chair) Professor, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University: Chalmers conducts research on security sector reform (SSR) and conflict prevention. He has worked for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (as Senior Consulting Fellow). During 2004, he has made presentations to seminars in the Cabinet Office, DFID, FCO, the MoD, Oxford and Warwick Universities, and has recently been cited by the IMF and World Bank. He has also worked for the British Council and Foreign Policy Centre. In 2003-2004, he helped to lead an evaluation of the UK Government’s Conflict Prevention Pools (responsible for spending around £500m per year some of which funded Saferworld). Chalmers also works on UK defence and security policy. In 1999-2001, together with the MoD’s Chief Economist, he worked on a study assessing the economic costs and benefits of UK defence exports. He recently advised DFID on its methodology for taking into account sustainable development in arms export licensing decisions. During 2000-2002, working with Professor William Walker of St Andrew's University, Chalmers was involved in a project on nuclear weapons and Scottish independence, involving interviews with leading Scottish politicians and senior civilian and military officials and ex-officials.[14]
  • Hampo Ghazarossian Business Consultant
  • Owen Greene Senior Lecturer, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University
  • Charles Marshall (Treasurer) Chartered Accountant
  • Glynis Rankin Management Consultant
  • Gerry Robbins Retired Chartered Accountant
  • Lord Judd of Portsea Special Adviser to the Board
  • Adrian Wilkinson Team Leader, UNDP SEESAC


Its patrons for the financial year 2005-6 included: Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon KBE, Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP, Dr Garret FitzGerald, Glyn Ford MEP, Air Marshal The Lord Garden KCB, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Rt Hon Lord Healey of Riddlesden, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, Rt Hon Charles Kennedy, MP Glenys Kinnock MEP, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP, Hans-Gert Poettering MEP, Rt Hon Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Temple-Morris.[15]


Address: 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT


  1. About Us, Saferworld website, accessed March 2009.
  2. New Director appointed at Saferworld, Saferworld website, accessed March 2009.
  3. Saferworld Annual Review April 2004-March 2005, Saferworld, undated, p. 6
  4. Saferworld Annual Review April 2004-March 2005, Saferworld, undated, p. 6
  5. What we do
  6. Saferworld Annual Review April 2004-March 2005, Saferworld, undated, p. 18
  7. Saferworld Annual Review April 2004-March 2005, Saferworld, undated, p. 18
  8. Annual review 2004-5
  9. Human Rights Annual Report 2002, House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2002-3, House of Commons 2003, p. Ev 6
  10. [1]
  11. For example, The problem of small arms and light weapons, National Forum Against Small Arms, South Asia Partnership - Bangladesh, Saferworld, December 2006, p. 3
  12. Abdel-Fatau Musah Africa: The Political Economy of Small Arms & Conflicts as published in: DPMN Bulletin - Development Policy Management in Sub-Sahran Africa Conflicts in Africa: Resolution, Management and Peace Building, Volume VIII, No. 1, July 2001
  13. Funding, Saferworld website, accessed March 2009
  14. Bradford University Peace Studies department Malcolm Chalmers
  15. Saferworld Annual Review April 2005-March 2006, Saferworld, undated, p. 19