ECOWAS member states require roadmap for regulation of small arms

Ecowas Commission

Baba Gana Wakil, Resident Representative of ECOWAS in Ghana, has urged Member States to create a roadmap for effective integration of the harmonized guideline of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons into national legal frameworks.

He said the roadmap would help promote accountability, transparency, and responsible arms trade.

Baba Wakil made the call at the opening of a three-day stakeholder sensitization workshop on the Harmonized Guideline of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and Arms Trade Treaty in Accra.

The workshop organised by the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) is also for the development of a National Strategy on Small Arms Control.

The workshop is aimed at bringing together key stakeholders to collaborate and develop an effective and comprehensive national strategy on small arms control as a vital step towards the operationalization the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Arms Trade Treaty.

He said, “together, we can identify innovative strategies, best practices, and practical solutions to enhance the implementation of these vital instruments. Your commitment, knowledge, and dedication are critical to achieving our shared objectives of peace, security, and sustainable development.”

He said the workshop was also to acquaint relevant stakeholders in the ECOWAS Region with the harmonized guideline of the ECOWAS Convention and for participants to gain a deep understanding of the provisions, principles, and obligations outlined within the frameworks.

Baba Wakil said small arms and light weapons, ammunitions and their components have inflicted immeasurable suffering on societies, and their widespread availability had fueled conflicts, perpetuated violence, undermined stability, and hindered socio-economic development.

“The devastating consequences of these weapons are felt by individuals, families, and entire communities, who are torn apart by their destructive force, and the Convention stands tall as a testament, to our commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control,” he added.

He said the move reflected their collective determination to safeguard human lives, promote stability, and foster sustainable development.

It serves as a crucial global framework, providing guidelines for responsible arms trade and preventing illicit flows that fuel conflicts and human rights abuses.

He reiterated ECOWAS’s resolve to promote harmonization within the regions, saying our work represents a united commitment to ensure a peaceful and brighter future for our people, where the menace of arms proliferation is eradicated.

Mr Pieter Smidt Van Gelder, Deputy Head of Mission at the European Union, said while substantial progress had been made in reducing and controlling small arms and light weapons worldwide, a few challenges remained.

Notably, the fight against small arms is closely linked with wider security and development issues, spanning from border management to access to State services in under-developed areas but may not always be high on the political agenda and lack adequate funding, in view of other competing national development priorities.

He said the workshop would kick-start the work on the development of Ghana’s national strategy on small arms and light weapons and pave the way for less illegal arms, less crime, and less insecurity.

“The EU will continue to support Ghana to address other security and development challenges, including strengthen border management, trust between local communities and security actors, and job creation in key value chains, all of which to help build a safer and more secure Ghana,” he added.

Mr Solomon Okai, Programmes Officer, FOSDA, said small arms and light weapons were now a serious issue not just within borders but also around the world, a threat that needed immediate attention.

He said the situation needed unwavering, dedication, and coordinated actions to guarantee the security and welfare of citizens.

He said effective control of arms required a thorough and multifaceted strategy and strengthening of legislative frameworks.

“It is important to strengthen border controls by making investments in modern technology and giving security officers the proper equipment, training, and funding, collaborate with regional and global partners to advance information sharing, align legal frameworks, and support joint initiatives to combat the illicit trade in weaponry,” he added.

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