ECOWAS, EU AND UNDP TO BOOST FIGHT AGAINST PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS IN ECOWAS SUB-REGIONSep 16, 2014
Abuja 16 September 2014 – The global fight against the illicit proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) received a major boost today, in Abuja, with the launch of a ‘Small Arms Project’ by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP).
The small arms project aims at mopping up SALW and promoting development projects by empowering the people in the pilot communities located in selected regions of six ECOWAS Member States. The project will run from 2014 to 2017 and will be implemented by the UNDP, Nigeria Field Office.
Recognising the urgent need for a comprehensive Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration across the Mano River and the Sahel Sahara regions in order to enhance security, the European Union, in agreement with ECOWAS, is putting in 5.56 million Euro into the UNDP-managed project which runs for a period of 3 years.
The project is an intervention under the Programme "EU Support to ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate" through which the proposed pilot projects in Niger and Mali will complement other initiatives already being implemented within the European Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel.
The project will implement “Pilot Weapons Collection Programmes” (“Disarmament and Community Development” or “Weapons for Development”) in two clusters covering 6 countries, namely Northern Niger, Mali; the Mano River Union (West of Cote d’Ivoire; Guinée Forestière; East of Liberia; North-East of Sierra Leone). It is geared towards the “Consolidation of Good Governance and Regional Stability” in the ECOWAS sub-region.
The activities of the project include raising community awareness on the dangers associated with the illicit proliferation of small arms and armed violence; strengthening the capacity of security institutions and communities to enhance safety and above all encouraging voluntary weapons surrender/collection in return for community based development projects.
Speaking at the event, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E Kadre Desire OUEDRAOGO noted that ‘ECOWAS has undertaken a number of interventions to ensure that its mandate and obligations to Member States are addressed and declared that the organisation ‘more than ever before, is determined to continue to provide technical and financial assistance to our Member States in support of the Priority Activity Plan for the Implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials’. President Ouedraogo added that this ‘action is necessary due to the fact that proliferation of small arms had increased within the past three years across West Africa following the civil wars in Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and the instability in Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Mali’.
In his remarks, the Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Michel Arrion, said that European Union's commitment to the project was informed by a recognition that peace, security and stability are a necessary condition for development, and noted that "the intervention would contribute to the building and maintaining of peace, security and stability in the ECOWAS region."
Also speaking, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Daouda Touré said, “The trafficking of SALW is fuelling many community based violence which has assumed alarming proportions in recent times. It continues to be a major threat to economic growth and stability, and hinders the much needed investment in socio-infrastructure development in the sub region. The UN and ECOWAS recognize that it is imperative that the international community works closely to assist regional and national mechanisms to develop integrated programmes in fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, including piracy, cross-border crime and SALW trafficking.”Contact information
For further information please contact:
Mr. Modestus Chukwulaka
Politics, Information and Communication Section
Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria & ECOWAS
Mr. Oluwafisan BANKALE
Mr. Anthony DIOKA