At The 11th  (NATCOM) Meeting, Member States Encouraged To Collaborate To End Small Arms Proliferation In The Region

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In an effort to address issues of regional security, members of the ECOWAS gathered on Tuesday November 27, 2019 at the New Ministerial complex in Congo Town to strategise on ways and means as well as formulate implementable policies and programs to end the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.

Speaking at the program host chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms Atty. Maxwell Grigsby termed as timely the hosting of the major event in Liberia especially at a time some gains have been made in the sector by LiNSCA.

Mr. Grigsby stressed the importance of accelerating mechanisms which he noted when done will help ensure proper arms control across the Region.

The LiNSCA Boss told the gathering Tuesday that collaborating efforts to stop the spread of arms in West Africa is important as such he urged participants at the meeting to see it as a challenge moving forward.

“West Africa is tired of war and now sees peace as a way to unite every one”, He noted.

According to Atty.Grigsby, the Liberian Government’s objective is not to just ensure effective weapon and ammunition management and accountability, but to meet other international standards among others.

He thanked ECOWAS for selecting Liberia to host the timely meeting; noting that the commission is working very hard and is moving faster in its endeavor to begin its armories inspection across the Country soon.

“Liberia is concerned about issue in the Sahel region mainly with the proximity of the  Countries, it is a potential threat especially with the bad historical past of civil wars in the those Countries”, he added.  They suffered unrest that caused young children to be called disadvantaged youths. “The LiNSCA boss reflected.

He indicated further that if nothing is done sooner to address the issue of former children soldiers in the region  to ensure they are rehabilitated fully; the region will face another huge challenge.

  The small armed conference at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town saw  participants reviewing the recommendations of the Niamey Technical Review Meeting of the 10th Anniversary of ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) which was held this year in Niger, and as well on fruitful discussions on implementation of priorities for 2020 to 2030, including ensuring networking partnership and resource mobilization in the fight against SALW.

Also speaking was a proxy of ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia Babatunde Ajisomo who noted that despite the effort  and progress made by ECOWAS in the fight against  small arms and light weapons, the proliferation of small arms continues to harm the sub-region.

He stressed that the fight against small arms requires a collective approach from all stakeholders in the ECOWAS region.

ECOWAS Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo told the delegates that proliferation of small arms is causing serious problem in the region with over 2000 attacks and many deaths and displacements of people from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, which has caused challenges for the West Africa Region and said it calls for attention.

According to him, the situation calls for concern and must be addressed collectively with a more effective way.

 He added that the problem of the proliferation of small arms must be addressed holistically as he commended the Liberia Small Arms Commission for registering all of the security arms in Liberia something he said must be seen as a success story of other countries.

The German Ambassador to Liberia said his country is committed to helping Africa end illegal use of small arms because African fleeing the effect of small arms end up on their borders in Europe.

Ambassador Habert Jager said his government and the European Union stand with West Africa to support development initiative.

This year NATCOM Meeting was sponsored by ECOWAS with support from the Government of Germany through the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). It brought together heads and Permanent Secretaries of National Small Arms Commissions in the 15 ECOWAS Member States. Also at the meeting were a number of development partners including the European Union, UNDP, Small Arms Survey, UNIDIR, GIZ, MAG among others.

It can be recalled that in 1998 the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the sub-region declared a Moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of arms and ammunition as the first practical action by ECOWAS to galvanize regional platform for tackling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The regional body also in 2006 adopted the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

ECOWAS Member States consider the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to constitute a major threat to peace and stability within the region.

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