The Head of Small Arms Division of ECOWAS, Mr. Joseph Ahoba (right) presenting a medal to Mrs. Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director of Ghana's Ministry of Interior during 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. Looking on are some officials at the seminar.
The Head of Small Arms Division of ECOWAS, Mr. Joseph Ahoba (right) presenting a medal to Mrs. Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director of Ghana's Ministry of Interior during 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. Looking on are some officials at the seminar.

Outdated legislative frameworks affecting arms control in ECOWAS region - Chief Director

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Interior, Mrs. Adelaide Anno-Kumi, is of the view that most West African states are unable to control small arms and light weapons proliferation due to outdated legislative frameworks.

Advertisement

She explained that while a considerable number of states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are struggling to adopt new legislations due to insufficient resources and necessary expertise, a few states which have been able to develop domestic legislation, are struggling to overcome the internal administrative procedures in enactment of such legislations.

Mrs. Anno-Kumi, who was 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 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, called on member states to adopt legislation to harmonise obligations under various treaties and conventions.

Purpose of the seminar 

The ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the UNIDIR organised the 3-day 2023 Regional Disarmament Seminar to convene subject matter experts to deliberate on developments in the field of disarmament and arms control with a focus on gender.

Participants at the seminar

ECOWAS aims to reduce the number of weapons in circulation, establish effective regulatory frameworks, and eliminate certain categories of weapon systems in the region.

The seminar was also seeks to enhance member states' awareness of their obligations to disarmament instruments. 

Additionally, the seminar will serve as a platform for Member States to exchange ideas and share best practices, ultimately bridging gaps in understanding and promoting a culture of disarmament, gender mainstreaming, non-proliferation, and arms control throughout the ECOWAS region. 

Potential threats 

Mrs. Anno-Kumi explained that “Illicit circulation of conventional arms remains, in many African regions, a serious and immediate threat to the security of the populations, to institutional stability and rule of law, and to national, regional and international peace and development.”

For her, whether illicit weapons are used for armed criminality, banditry, poaching or military conflicts or not, they have a damaging impact on all aspects of people’s life, and by extension, societies.

She noted that illicit circulation of arms contribute to rapid and violent shifts of political regimes, instability, humanitarian crisis and terrorism, with a dreadful impact across the continent.

She noted that the “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.”

Mrs. Anno-Kumi therefore urged member states to take appropriate measures for the enhancement of stockpile management capacities and physical security of conventional arms and ammunition to minimise the risk of diversion, explaining that “This can be achieved through the refurbishing of existing storage facilities or the building of new ones in compliance with international security standards.”

She also urged member states to adopt a full and comprehensive state-owned weapons marking programmes, including a weapons and ammunition registration systems, saying “States should further take advantage of the weapons marking systems to establish a comprehensive inventories and database systems.”

Additionally, she charged ECOWAS countriers to reinforce national capacity for the monitoring and controlling of border areas, as well as air, road, railway and water transport systems in a more effective manner.

She also called for remote surveillance systems, provision of adequate training for border control agencies with emphasis on inter-agency cooperation, sensitisation and awareness programmes among communities living in the border areas on the subject.

Gender responsive policies 

The Director of UNIDIR, Mr Robin Geiss, said the gender and disarmament programme seeks to contribute to strategic goals of achieving gender equality in disarmament forums and effectively applying gender perspective in disarmament processes.

He explained that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in conflicts could be linked to conflict-related sexual violence.

The Director of UNIDIR, Mr Robin Geiss

For him, weapons and ammunitions are used by perpetrators to commit rape, to threaten or coerce individuals into sexual acts against their will, and to injure and kill survivors and victims of sexual violence.

Similarly, Mr. Geiss observed, weapon proliferation is one of the factors that fuel armed conflict, which in turn, propagates the conditions that lead to conflict-related sexual violence.

He expressed the optimism that a gender-responsive implementation of the arms control and disarmament toolbox can contribute to changing gender norms and attitudes by promoting women’s participation in decision-making about security issues, including arms control and disarmament, which has traditionally been a male-dominated field.

Advertisement

For him, there was more to be done to improve women’s participation in arms control in the ECOWAS region and the world as a whole. 

He also expressed the readiness and commitment of UNIDIR to continue to work with the ECOWAS to help improve small arms disarmament in the region.

Women’s participation 

For his part, the Head of Small Arms Division of ECOWAS, Mr. Joseph Ahoba, said one of the key objectives of the seminar was to strengthen the gender component of policies and programmes aimed at curbing illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in the ECOWAS region.

Head of Small Arms Division of ECOWAS, Mr. Joseph Ahoba

“We must identify practical steps to ensure that our efforts are inclusive and considerate of the specific vulnerabilities faced by women and youth in the context of armed conflict,” he said.

Advertisement

In addition, he observed, the concept of inclusive leadership within “our security structures is of paramount importance.”

Mr. Ahoba also urged the participants to examine opportunities and challenges in promoting women’s participation in arms control and disarmament efforts within the ECOWAS region.

“We must explore ways to break down barriers and create spaces where women can actively contribute to shaping our security,” he stated.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission of Small Arms and Lights Weapons, Mr. Samuel Williams Yeboah, said addressing disarmament, conventional arms, and the gendered impacts of conflicts was a complex challenge that demanded a comprehensive and inclusive approach.

Advertisement

He therefore called on member states of ECOWAS to mainstream gender perspectives into “our disarmament and arms control policies and programmes.”

Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...

0
Shares