Gambia calls for strengthening national capacities for effective management of weapon stockpiles

Jun 2, 2020, 11:57 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

The minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Mamadou Tangara, during the Africa Day Virtual Conference on silencing the guns in Africa introduced an agenda item “Strengthening National Capacities for Effective Management of Weapon Stockpiles” for African Union (AU).

This agenda is to ensure that there is a deliberate collaborative effort between the commission, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the Member States in improving national capacities to effectively address the illicit use and proliferation of Small and Light Weapons (SALWs) on the Continent.

The topic of discussion during the conference was local ownership of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR), mechanism for the operationalisation of the amnesty month.

During his statement, he requested the Commission to implement the Assembly Decisions on the agenda item, saying the AU Reform Agenda will be executed in a hallowed space if sustainable peace, security and development are pursued through various strategic platforms and programmes including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

“DDR and SSR are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The Gambia appreciates that there are critical policies of our union aimed at providing to the member states essential capacities to develop, localize and work their DDR and SSR Programmes.”

Minister Tangara added that the AU policy framework on Security Sector Reform (SSR) and DDR programmes, such as the Amnesty Month provide to the Member States the platforms to develop and implement programmes to complement efforts toward sustainable peace and security.

He said The Gambia notes with appreciation the convening of a consultative meeting in Banjul in 2019 on both localizing and effectively implementing the continental agenda on SSR.

“The diversity of the participants from the public sector, CSOs, Regional and International Organizations have led to important ideas to enrich the Commission’s orientation in providing technical support to the member states in implementing their National SSR Programmes.”

He highlighted that the roles of women, religious leaders and youths are also pivotal in promoting both ownership and localising the implementation of DDR and SSR Continental Strategies, adding there is need for capacity to ensure that the demographic dividend of the Continent continues to be fully harnessed in the quest for sustainable peace and security.

He continued that The Gambia views peacekeeping support operations as existential to the success of DDR and SSR Programmes, while affirming that it is to that they continue to contribute personnel to the peace support operations in various theatres under the auspices of the AU and the UN.

“Gambia has since 2017 introduced reform programmes particularly for the security and judiciary sectors. This is done in recognition of the correlation between the entrenched respect for human rights and rule of law and, the discipline of the institutions tasked to defend and implement these values and ethos. It is on this basis that the Gambia Government with the support of the United Nations conceived and implemented Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and an SSR Programme.”

He recommended to AU that with the support of partners and member states, they need to continue to consolidate the synergies between the Continent’s SSR, DDR and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development strategies; The AU with its partners need to continue to support the member states to promote strong grassroots initiatives to ensure that the youths, CSOs, Religious and Women’s Groups are fully involved in the efforts toward sustainable peace, security and development.

“The AU with its partners need to deploy effective communication strategies to ensure all the stakeholders are adequately informed of the processes to implement the Continental DDR and SSR Strategies and Programmes; to promote national ownership and accountability in the implementation of DDR and SSR Programmes; and to continue to support the processes to ensure that DDR and SSR Programmes are supported with national reconciliation processes and the improvement of national capacities to effectively manage the weapon and other dangerous stockpiles.”