Regional News of Sunday, 12 January 2014

Source: GNA

Intensify efforts towards ratification of arms trade treaty - WAANSA

Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, President of the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA), has called on governments of member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intensify their efforts in ratifying and enforcing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to eradicate the uncontrolled accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons (SALW).

He said the ATT was a significant step towards reducing the human suffering caused by an unconstrained trade in weapons in Africa and around the world, and the fight against the misuse and proliferation of SALW will enhance development in the various states.

Mr. Amoa made the call at the weekend at a planning workshop for the ratification of arms trade treaty organized by the WAANSA at Elmina.

The two-day workshop attended by representatives of WAANSA and its partner organisations was aimed at conducting lobbying and campaign activities in all the ECOWAS member-states to achieve full signature and ratification.

It was also to identify the ATT implementation needs of the states, as well as discuss the content of Training of Trainers Workshop aimed at building capacity of National Networks to be able to rally local support to aid the lobbying campaign by WAANSA.

WAANSA was founded in 2002 as a Regional body of civil society organisations grouped in National Networks or coalition which works in partnership with its collaboration, including journalists in the area of peace and security across member states.

Mr. Leonardo Lara, Deputy Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), who chaired the opening ceremony, noted that the complexity and enormity of the challenge and the increasing dynamics in the proliferation and cross border transfer of SALW, gives the Network an arduous task for the enforcement of the treaty.

‘This will help safeguard the relative peace and stability in ECOWAS states’ he stated.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms (NACSA), Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh, also urged stakeholders to join the fight in eradicating the spread of SALW, which posed a threat to peace and stability and stifle the prospects for sustainable development.

Mr. Applerh said in order for ATT to become a reality, NACSA must live up to its mandate by overseeing the control of illicit proliferation of SALW in Ghana.

To achieve this aim, the treaty has to be ratified and fully implemented on a global scale, he indicated, and urged all the ECOWAS states to come on board to enforce the treaty.

The Regional Legal Adviser of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mrs. Julie Tenenbaum, also commended ECOWAS states for taking a huge step toward regulating the proliferation of conventional weapons, which had caused great human suffering throughout the world.

She said in order for the various stages to progress at a sustainable pace, civil society has a big role to play in raising awareness about the treaty, and the importance for their countries to join in and domesticate it.

Mrs. Tenenbaum asked the national authorities, civil society and international organisations which have worked together toward achieving the adoption of the ATT, to keep on collaborating for the regulation of conventional weapons to become a reality.