Jun 20, 2014, 11:34 AM
Representatives of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) recently visited The Gambia to lobby for the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, ATT.
The historic UN General Assembly agreement on the ATT on 2 April 2013 was a significant step toward reducing the human suffering caused by an unconstrained trade in weapons in Africa and around the world.
While an agreement for an ATT is a first step in the treaty process, in order to make a real difference, the treaty has to be ratified and fully implemented on a global scale, with 50 signatories needing to ratify the treaty in order for it come into force.
Fourteen ECOWAS member states have so far signed; however, only six countries namely, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Guinea have ratified the treaty, which entered into force in December 2014.
WAANSA has sought help from the UK government to implement a project, that would encourage member states in the ECOWAS region to ratify the treaty, and to contribute to the disarmament objectives in West Africa, involving work with civil society, governments and other partners.
Speaking at the press conference organized by Peace Ambassadors The Gambia and held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, Mr Baffour, the president of WAANSA, said they are happy that they have the opportunity to interact with civil society and the media in The Gambia.
He noted that they are in the country because of the ATT, a treaty that was negotiated globally at the United Nations.
He explained that in May 2002 when WAANSA was formed, they started organising and mobilizing until October 2005 when civil society proposed that West Africa, under the umbrella of ECOWAS, should have a convention on small arms and large weapons, because these have become the weapons of mass destruction in our sub-region.
According to him, in October 2005, this document was adopted in Mali and was presented to ECOWAS Commission in Abuja; and six months later, the document was adopted as a convention by member states of ECOWAS.
The convention on small arms and large weapons led to the establishment of a national commission on small arms in all the 15 member states of ECOWAS; and because of the convention, no member state could import a weapon or weapons into this region without being monitored, he said.
The national commissions were now charge to make sure that the use of small arms and light weapons in our sub-region was reduced, he said.
The agency established under the convention of small arms and light weapons by ECOWAS is to ensure that small arms collaboration is reduced, he further stated.