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ECOWAS reiterates commitment to arms control and disarmament

Disarmament, along with arms control, has always been a principled objective of the Non-Aligned Movement. NAM has expressed deep concerns over the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread to unauthorized recipients in many regions of the world, as well as over the challenges posed by their possession by terrorists, illegal armed groups and transnational organized criminal organizations. Member States of the NAM in their individual capacity as well as members of regional organizations have taken steps to promote disarmament and arms control.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a political and economic community comprising of the following 15 Member States in West Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The main goal of ECOWAS is to promote economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development. ECOWAS also addresses issues pertaining to peace and security in West Africa region.

In an effort to intensify the fight against the illicit proliferation of weapons and the search for peace and security in West Africa, ECOWAS and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) organized the maiden edition of the Annual Regional Conference on Disarmament on November 8 and 9, 2022 in Abuja, Nigeria, which brought together global experts in the field, to discuss past and current developments in the fields of disarmament.

The aim of this event was to establish a regional narrative for the conversations in dis-armament as well as arms control issues. More specifically, these annual seminar series will also generate wide spectrum of discussions dwelling on diverse thematic issues, with experts’ analysis in panel sessions, drawn globally to address the key issues. These would add to the understanding of the member states of these obligations and would provide them the opportunities for further collaborations and on the right stead to deliver on their commitments.
In the opening ceremony, UNIDIR Director Robin Geiss represented by Deputy Director Cecile Aptel remarked: “Through its actions, ECOWAS seeks to strengthen its regional arms control agreements and pursues relentless deployment of technical and financial resources in support of the arms control policy arrangements in the region.

As Regional Economic Community (REC), on the African Continent, ECOWAS has undertaken multiple independent but complimentary arms control initiatives over the years. From the Declaration of the Moratorium on Import, Export and Manufacture of Arms to the current legally binding ECOWAS Convention on SALW, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.”

The UNIDIR Director said these would add to member states’ understanding of the obligations and would provide them opportunities for further collaborations on the right stead to deliver on their commitments. “More specifically, these annual seminar series will also generate wide spectrum of discussions. Discussions that will dwell on diverse thematic issues, with experts’ analysis in panel sessions, drawn globally to address the key issues,” he added. Geiss explained that despite significant efforts in disarmament, it remained important to increase actions across the region for arms control. He commended ECOWAS for this important regional initiative. Representing the President of ECOWAS, Omar Touray, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Abdel Fatau, thanked UNIDIR for the research actions in the field of disarmament. Touray recalled the importance of the meeting and indicated that it constituted a remarkable step forward in disarmament cooperation actions at the regional level.

“The expected outcomes envisaged to form the focus of the annual seminar series will include deepening assessments of these regional, continental, and global arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation regimes,” the ECOWAS President stressed. “As such, based on annual priorities (to be defined jointly by ECOWAS and UNIDIR), issues of obligations and commitments will be on the discussion table.”

Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ECOWAS_logo.svg


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