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Monday, September 21, 2020

West African lobby wants Gambia to sign UN arms treaty

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The landmark UN instrument came into force on 24 December 2014 and regulates international trade in conventional arms, including small arms, battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.

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The event in The Gambia, which was organised by West Africa Action Network on Small Arms, in collaboration with Peace Ambassadors-The Gambia, was part of the sub-regional civil society’s Ecowas-wide lobbying and campaign initiative. 

The president of WANNSA, Baffour Amoa, said West African countries should not hesitate to sign up to the treaty, given the history of conflicts and resultant consequences. 

“In the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, in our sub regions,” he explained, “we experienced a number of coup d’états in many countries and this brought about proliferation of small arms and light weapons in our sub region. This made development very difficult because everybody wanted to overthrow everybody and it was a very difficult period.”

The UN reported that the human cost of armed conflicts is well documented. It is estimated that the number of non-state armed conflicts reached 35 in 2008 and that a similar number of conflicts involving states took place in the same year. Between 2004 and 2009, about 55,000 people perished annually as a direct consequence of armed conflict.

According to WANNSA president, Amoa, the Arms Trade Treaty, which is first international instrument regulating the transfer of arms, was borne out of the necessity to promote peace through regulation of trade in arms. 

He continued: “In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly had to take a decision on whether it is time for the world to negotiate an arms trade treaty. When it was put to vote, majority agreed that it was time to negotiate a treaty to regulate the transfer of arms. This was in April 2013 and 154 states voted overwhelmingly in favour of the adoption of the text, 3 countries objected and 23 abstained. 

“In June 2013, the treaty was open for signature. 130 states have signed the treaty, out of 193 states, who are members of the UN. We have achieved the 50 ratifications in December 2014.”

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