West Africa: Experts Discuss Control of Illicit Arms Trade in West Africa

5 December 2019

MORE than 30 arms control officials from five West African countries and international experts on Tuesday gathered in Accra to discuss ways to firm up the control of illicit arms trade in the region.

They were from Ghana, Zambia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia with the experts from Germany, France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU).

The two-day workshop was in line with phase two of EU activities to support implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) dubbed, "EU ATT Outreach Project (EU ATT OP)", which is executed by the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control and Expertise France, an organisation based in France.

Adopted on April 2, 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly and entered into force on December 24, 2014, the treaty aims to establish the highest possible common standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms and rollback their illicit trade and diversion.

The workshop set the platform for participants to discuss the effective implementation of the treaty, review steps taken, in respective countries and exchange best practices on arms transfer controls.

Addressing participants at the opening, Mr Jones Applerh, Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapon (NCSALW), said the illicit proliferation of arms and the violence they were used for caused loss of life and property and comprised development.

The full implementation of the treaty, he said, helps to promote socio-economic development, reduce human suffering, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The ATT implementation is national responsibility. States are called upon to strengthen their national control systems and develop control list on conventional arms," he said.

In an interview with the media, Mr Applerh said as part of measures to check arms proliferation, guns belonging to the Ghana Police Service, were being marked to help track them, adding that those in Volta, Oti regions had been marked, while the exercise was ongoing in Ashanti Region.

He said stakeholders were considering the development of a mobile application that would ease the process of renewing gun licenses to increase annual renewal which was currently about 60,000 out of about 1. 2 million licensed gun bearers.

For his part, Mr Olivier Leonarduzzi, Key Expert of Expertise France said the EU had for about six years, been assisting several countries to strengthen their national arms transfer control systems.

He commended participating countries for their initiatives put in place with respect to the treaty and urged them to use the platforms created to consolidate gains and build cooperation.

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