Monday, March 15, 2010

Arms:Africa - EU tackles trafficking of small arms and light weapons

Source: European Union (EU - )Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are easily acquired and used in armed conflict by states and non-state actors; they are cheap and easily accessible, simple to operate, highly mobile, easy to repair or replace, and highly lethal.

Most illicit SALW are initially legally produced and traded weapons that are later diverted, sold, given away or stolen — many from government arsenals. The trade can be reduced through:

- effective government controls over their transfer
- export and import control
- timely marking and tracing of weapons
- reliable record keeping, safe storage
- stockpile security
- destruction of surplus weapons.

The EU has just launched the first Pan African pilot project on the fight against illicit trafficking of firearms in Africa to the tune of KES 344 million Kenyan shillings (3,3 million Euros).

The project aims to:

- support the Africa-EU strategic partnership on peace and security, notably the fight against the illicit accumulation / trafficking of firearms

- raise awareness among national and regional institutions and civil society about legislative and institutional aspects

- establish and foster National Focal Points to develop and implement national action plans

- strengthen cooperation between African regional police chiefs' organizations and national, regional and continental law enforcement agencies.

A steering committee (comprisingregional economic communities, the regional police chiefs cooperation offices and other relevant international organizations) has been established to monitor the implementation of the project.

What action is the EU taking?

EU action in this field is on three fronts:


Falling into a broader Africa-EU partnership:
- dialogue on challenges to peace and security
- full use of African peace and security measures
- predictable funding for African-led peace support.


Africa and the EU have identified concrete areas for action to address the problem of small arms and light weapons, antipersonnel landmines and explosive remnants of war.


The EU has spent some €500m since 1992 on SALW- related programmes, much of it in Africa.

Why is this action necessary?

Although armed conflicts are declining in the 21st century, armed violence continues to kill, maim and destabilise vulnerable societies. 740 000 people die as a result of armed violence each year.

79% of all weapons circulating in Africa are held by civilians – this seriously undermines the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, undermines governance and helps support illegitimate nodes of power and instability. It also threatens the success of development aid, the safety of development workers and raises the costs of delivering and sustaining such aid.

Africa is the continent which has suffered and is still suffering most from conflicts, instability and weak governance. It is therefore the continent most concerned by fire-arms related national, regional, continental and global regulatory instruments.

Africa's determination to tackle these issues head on has translated into a number of politically and/or legally binding instruments such as: the Bamako Declaration, the Windhoek Common African Position, the Nairobi Declaration, the Nairobi Protocol, the SADC Protocol and the ECOWAS Convention, last but not least the AU-RECs process for an African Union's SALW Strategy.

The Fourth Biennial Meeting of States Parties (scheduled for June 2010), will address the implementation of the UN Programme of Action. It will be an opportunity to assess national and regional efforts in the implementation of the UNPoA. It comes ahead of the UN conference which will be convened in 2012 to consider the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty.

Published by i On Global Trends - Mike Hitchen Online - news, opinion, analysis
See also Sydney Irresistible and for personal comment, Mike Hitchen Unleashed
Putting principles before profits