Fight against small arms: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) harmonises its text

15 Sept 2021, Abidjan


As part of the development of a synergy for a better understanding in the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Directorate of Peacekeeping and Regional Security (DPKRS) of the ECOWAS Commission organised a Governmental experts workshop to validate the harmonized guidelines on the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and ATT.


The workshop is organized in partnership with GIZ as part of the Organized Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) project, co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AA).


This workshop is taking place in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, from 15 to 17 September 2021, with the participation of representatives of Ministries of Justice, Judiciary and Chairpersons of the National Commissions on Small Arms and Light Weapons of the ECOWAS Member States. The purpose of this workshop is to validate the Harmonised Guidelines of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the ATT initiated by the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations regional center for peace and disarmament in Africa (UNREC).


The opening session was marked by four important statements, including the Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms of Côte d'Ivoire, the Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy in Côte d'Ivoire, the Representative of the European Union Delegation in Côte d'Ivoire, the Representative of the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, and the Chargé d'Affaires of the Resident Representation of the ECOWAS Commission in Côte d'Ivoire.


In her welcome address, Mrs. Diomandé Marie Fatim Méité, the Executive Secretary, representing the Chair of the National Commission on Small Arms of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Léon DJOKOUEHI, warmly welcomed participants to the workshop and highlighted the importance of such gathering for an effective control of circulation of arms in the region. She commended the ECOWAS Commission for its efforts to create a synergy of actions and complementarity for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons. She further stressed the need for coordination between ECOWAS Commission and Member States in the implementation of the Harmonized Guidelines on the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the ATT once adopted by a higher instance.

Speaking on behalf of Gen. Francis A. BEHANZIN, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Joseph AHOBA, Head of Small Arms Division thanked the Government and people of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for all the measures put in place for the success of the workshop. He reiterated the need to improve arms control in the region by adopting such a Harmonized Guidelines. He further highlighted the need to constructively engage with various stakeholders, in particular Member States, in order to proffer solution to numerous challenges in the fight against proliferation of small arms and light weapon in West Africa. He also thanked the German government and the European Union for the enormous financial support under the 11th EDF.


Representing the European Union, Mr. Hadrien Maillard Team Leader at the Delegation of the European Union in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire considered that small arms constitute a real danger because they can be easily acquired and transferred. He also stated that ``The arms trade treaty aims in particular to establish the strictest international standards possible in order to regulate the licit trade in conventional arms, and to prevent their diversion''


The German Embassy in Cote D’ivoire represented by the Charge of Political and Economic Affairs stated that `` Germany, through the OCWAR T project, will support the activities for the validation of the model framework in order to improve the national and regional processes. According to him, these actions will allow ‘’the effective and results-oriented implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the ATT’’.

Finally, Mr. Jerôme WANYOU, Chargé d’Affaires of the Resident Representation of the ECOWAS Commission in Côte d’Ivoire, in his opening speech welcomed all the participants on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Jean-Claude Kassy BROU and also thanked the Government and people of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for the warm welcome to the participants in the workshop. He expressed his satisfaction. In conclusion, he wished participants fruitful deliberations and declared the meeting opened.

This workshop, which is part of the activities of SALW Component of the OCWAR T project will therefore ultimately validate the harmonized guidelines of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the ATT.