You are here: HomeNews2008 12 23Article 155057

General News of Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Source: GNA

ECOWAS States failed to ratify Small Arms Convention

From: Francis Ameyibor, GNA Special Correspondence, Freetown, Sierra Leone)

Freetown (Sierra Leone), Dec. 23, GNA - Eight out of the 15 member ECOWAS States have failed to ratify the sub-regional Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons proposed by civil society three years after a Draft was handed over to Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Convention is legally binding instrument which was pre-dated by the Declaration on the Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons in ECOWAS Member States in 1998. The Moratorium "a non-legal document," would remain in force until the ninth ratification of the Convention by member states, Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, President of West Africa Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) told Ghana News Agency in Freetown, Sierra Leone during the second regional civil society forum.

After three years of intense advocacy and lobbying, only Niger, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Mali, Togo, Guinea and Senegal had ratified the convention, whilst Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia are at the final phase of presenting the legislative instrument to ECOWAS.

The second civil society forum organised by WAANSA in collaboration with OXFAM Great Britain, ECOWAS Small Arms Control Programme (ECOSAP), UNDP Sierra Leone and UNREC.

Mr Dokyi Amoa commended the seven countries that had fulfilled the condition whilst encouraging the remaining countries to join civil society forces to make the sub-region arms free zone. He called on Governments of the remaining eight countries to rise up and be counted in the fight against the proliferation of small arms.

Highlighting the Convention, Mr Dokyi Amoa observed that a legally binding instrument would help regulate the manufacture, procurement, possession, transfer, brokering and management of small arms and light weapons in the West Africa Sub-region.

He said; "the damage small arms have already caused and the potential threat thereof to the stability of our Nations are well known to the people of West Africa and the world at large". The Convention covers, issues of exemptions, transparency and information exchange, review and harmonization of administrative and legislative provisions, and operational aspects.

Others are strengthening of boarder controls, public education and awareness programmes, marking and tracing, brokerage, marketing whilst the institutional arrangements focuses on monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the protocol. Major General Charles Okae (Rtd), Director of Defence and Security at ECOWAS Secretariat pledged the commitment of the sub-regional body to ratify the Convention.

Mr Jonathan Sandy, ECOSAP Programme Manager, said the use of arms in the resolution of differences only created a vicious cycle of violence which was extremely time-consuming and costly to tame. "We hope that it would not take too long for the ECOWAS Moratorium to become a Convention and make peace the most valuable regional asset. Such an asset would help speed up development of our Sub-Region," he said.