ECOWAS urged to apply tougher sanctions to stop illicit arms proliferation

The Economic Communi­ty of West African States (ECOWAS) has been urged to review its Arms and Ammuni­tion Act to ensure much stricter sanctions against offenders.

This is also to address the issues of proliferation of illicit weapons used for armed criminality in the sub region.

Speaking at the opening of the 2023 ECOWAS-United Nations Institute for Disarmament Re­search (UNIDIR) regional seminar on gender perspectives on arms control and disarmament in Accra yesterday, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Interior, Mrs Ade­laide Anno-Kumi, said the review of the act when undertaken would help nib in the bud wanton prolif­eration of arms and its repercus­sions on security in the sub-region.

The three-day event seeks to convene subject matter experts to deliberate on developments in the field of disbarment and arms control with focus on gender.

It is as well to enhance member state awareness of their obligations to disarmament and exchange ideas on best practices to bridge gaps in understanding and promoting a culture of disarmament.

Mrs Anno-Kumi said a number of initiatives to enhance measures against the flow of illicit conven­tional arms had been discussed and adopted by States, but examples still abound of the threat illicit arms continues to pose to states.

“Recent warfare in a few countries further illustrate how conventional arms and their illicit circulation contribute to rapid and violent shifts of political regimes, instability, humanitarian crisis and terrorism, with a dreadful impact across the continent,” she stated.

She said Ghana would continue to discharge its mandate of aware­ness creation among the citizenry on the dangers in having illicit arms, and blacksmiths to stop illegal man­ufacture of guns.

Samuel William Yeboah, Ex­ecutive Secretary of the National Commission of Small Arms and Light Weapons of Ghana, on his part charged the commission to help fight against small arms prolif­eration, violent extremism among others in the country.

He said violent crimes, and criminality were experiencing rapid growth and were becoming dynam­ic within Sub-Saharan West Africa, thus, the need to have a robust system to fight against illicit trade and the manufacture of small arms to halt its effect on humanity in the country.

The ECOWAS Commission­er for Political Affairs Peace and Security, Mr Abdel Fatau Musah, advocated the strengthening of se­curity at the country’s borders with the introduction of state of the art equipment to prevent the smuggling of guns into the country.

According to him, ECOWAS Commission was working very hard to help deal with issues related to gun proliferation saying women and children were the much affected when conflicts arose.

A Director at UNIDIR, Robin Geiss, charged member states to leverage synergies among comple­mentary global and regional arms control and disarmament instru­ments and treaties as well as other frameworks such as the women, peace and security agenda and the sustainable development goals to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons prolifer­ation.


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