#Article (Archive)

The dangers posed by small arms

Mar 11, 2014, 9:53 AM

Recently, we reported that workers in the media in The Gambia are being prepared to engage in sensitising the public on the dangers posed by the proliferation of small and light weapons.

The report stated that the national commission on small arms convened the three-day sensitisation and capacity-building forum for journalists from the print and electronic media, at Kairaba Beach Hotel.

They were given hand-outs such as copies of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons…and the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty of 2013.

Such documents are a valuable resource from which the journalists could tap to effective inform and educate the public on the threats to human and national security people everywhere in the world now face.

We intend to do that in future editions of this newspaper.

Meanwhile, as regards the importance we must give this issue, we want to recall the statements made in Abuja, Nigeria, by President Goodluck Jonathan in his speech delivered at Nigeria’s centenary conference on the theme: “Human security, peace and development: agenda for the 21st century”.

He said: “A great threat to our collective human and national security is the rising menace of the use of small arms and light weapons.

“Out of the 500 million illegal small arms and light weapons in the world, an estimated 100 million are in Africa, with 10 per cent in West Africa, mainly in the hands of non-state actors.

“Africa has had enough wars, and the cost of wars and insurgencies are too high.

“It has been estimated that Africa loses 18 billion dollars per year from wars as well as insurgencies…

“When there are wars or conflicts, we all lose. When there is peace, we all win.

“We must deepen our resolve to regulate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and strengthen our enforcement of the regional protocols, such as the ECOWAS convention on small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and related materials…”

“We must do more to reduce some of the drivers of growth in illicit small arms, including human insecurity, inequalities, marginalization, social exclusion and the culture of violence”.

In our opinion, the proposals made above require that the people, their governments and states enforce the ECOWAS convention on small arms.

They must also work to prevent the creation of conditions that cause disaffection in society, and lead to conflicts.

In short, to ensure there is good governance!

There are around half a billion military small arms around the world - they cause 90% of civilian casualties