Experts call for regulation of small arms trade

Channels Television  
Updated April 25, 2012

Government officials from ECOWAS member states and a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have demanded an urgent attention to the proliferation of small arms in the sub-region.

This was the focus of the talks on addressing the challenge during the meeting on small arms trade in Abuja on Wednesday, as top government officials from the 15 member states of ECOWAS converged in Abuja to prepare for the United Nations arms trade treaty negotiations scheduled for July this year..

The head of delegation of the ICRC, Zoran Jovanovic warned that the unregulated trade in arms is causing immense human suffering to countries and communities therefore it is now imperative that arms transfers be strictly regulated on a global level.

The meeting noted that influx of small arms into the West African sub-region is not about to decline anytime soon unless the trade is speedily regulated through the United Nations small arms trade treaty.

They also warned that the unregulated trade in arms will continue to spur conflicts and violence giving rise to human suffering and economic stagnation in the sub-region.

The meeting is crucial in ensuring that ECOWAS interests are adequately reflected in the arms trade treaty even as the sub region is grappling with spill over of arms from countries such as Libya and the recent coup d’état in Mali.

Going forward in identifying the challenges standing in the way of reducing the large number of small arms flooding the region, lack of political will by governments and financial gains from small arms trade were some of the identified hindrances among others.

While the speedy endorsement of the United Nations small arms trade treaty has been identified as a key element in fighting the proliferation of small arms, adopting the treaty is just a minor step, the meeting noted and called for more action.