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WANEP Calls for Ratification of Convention

Nov 14, 2008, 5:03 AM | Article By: Soury Camara

As Report Shows Over Eight Million Small Arms in West Africa

In an effort to tackle the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons and the use of cluster munitions, the West African Network for PeaceBuilding, recently ended a two-day sensitisation seminar for civil society organisations.

With the presence of a large number of over eight million small arms in West Africa, as indicated in the ECOWAS report on small arms and light weapons, WANEP found it imperative for CSOs to engage policy makers for the ratification of the relevant conventions by their National Assemblies.

One of the issues covered was how to build networks to ensure that decision-makers are influenced towardspolicy change.

The aim of the course was to raise awareness on the relevant international instruments with particular focus on ECOWAS Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was recently negotiated and adopted in Dublin, Ireland.

In light of this, West African Network and PeaceBuilding group, together with Civil Society Organisations, were trained to lobby and acquire advocacy skills for the ultimate ratification of both conventions.

Foremost on the agenda was the building of capacities of civil societies in order to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. The training was also to enhance the understanding and knowledge of participants about issues and realities being advocated.

Overall, participants perused a range of issues such as peace building and conflict prevention and its background effects on development. Moreover, the training sought to cause people to change their perspectives about conflict, which can be both negative and positive. Although conflict is perceived in a bad light, according to Ms. Pamela Cole, National Co-ordinator WANEP, conflict is sometimes necessary. "It can be creative and bring justice where injustice exists," she asserted.