UN urges Nigeria, The Gambia to establish national commissions on small arms

Abuja, Dec. 7, 2017 (TNE) The UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) has called on Nigeria and The Gambia to establish national commissions on small arms as required by the ECOWAS Small Arms Convention.

Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UNOWAS, made the call at a conference in Abuja on Thursday.

The conference organised by the ECOWAS Parliament and the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), focuses on legislative action for the containment of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) proliferation and terrorist financing.

Chambas said that the conference is an opportunity for representatives of member states to examine the status of implementation of harmonised legal texts aimed at combating SALWs and related crimes that led to conflicts.

He said that since the establishment of the ECOWAS Small Arms Convention in 2009, both countries have yet to create the national commissions on small arms.

The UNOWAS representative, however, commended the Nigeria Presidential Committee on SALWs established in 2003.

He urged Nigerian representatives to provide the committee with legal status and enhance its institutional capacity.

Chambas emphasised that the proliferation of small arms is responsible for 90 per cent of victims in armed conflicts globally.

He added that more than 50 per cent of weapons proliferating in Africa were thought to be used in terrorism, trafficking, robbery and other crimes.

“Approximately 35 million dollars of authorised and reported small arms enter West Africa each year, underlining the critical importance of their oversight and governance.

“Some seven to 10 million illicit SALWs are believed to be circulating in West Africa.”

He further stressed that addressing the deficits in governance wil tackle the root causes of conflicts which give effect to small arms proliferation in the region.

“The proliferation of small arms proliferation can be traced to deficits in governance at community and state levels.

“Proliferation of illicit arms and violent extremism are symptoms of deep-seated contestations; as long as there are deficits in governance, antagonistic relations and violent conflicts inevitably arise.

“In the absence of small arms, conflict will still occur, using other tools of violence: cutlasses, stones, bows and arrows, and even bare fists if necessary.

“Strategies for addressing SALW proliferation should therefore be placed within a broader governance framework that is predicated on the rule of law.”

Chambas also advised member states to address insecurity in the sub-region using “a human security approach based on home-grown initiatives” that will ensure inclusive solutions.

He advised members to enhance security and protect the rights of citizens in border communities to ensure they are not exploited by armed groups and extremists.

The UNOWAS representatives also called on participants at the conference to review the domestication of the ECOWAS Counter-terrorism Strategy and provide concrete proposals to strengthen the role of parliamentarians in its implementation.

He further restated that the UNOWAS is committed to working with the ECOWAS Parliament to promote security and good governance in West Africa.

(TNE)

%d bloggers like this: