West Africa: IANSA women at the Togo meeting on SALW control

20 November 2009

An experts’ meeting on the preliminary draft legal instrument on the control of small arms and light weapons in Central Africa and Plan of Action took place from 2-3 October 2009 in Lome Togo.

In an attempt to limit or stop armed violence as a result of frequent use of SALW the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, adopted the “Sao-Tomé initiative”, providing for the drafting and adoption by member states of a code of conduct on SALW control in Central Africa as well as a plan of action for the implementation of the instrument.

As part of preparatory work, a feasibility study on the creation of the legal instrument on SALW control in Central Africa was conducted and a working paper drafted with the assistance of the same international consultants who produced the feasibility study. Before the meeting of experts, a preliminary draft would be accompanied by elements regarding implementation corresponding to the provisions of the draft legal document.

It is in line with the above that the experts meeting was organised to contribute to the drafting of the preliminary draft legal instrument and elements for its implementation. This preliminary draft instrument would be submitted at the 29th ministerial meeting of the standing advisory committee to be held in N’djaména, Chad from 9-13 November 2009.

THE EXPERTS’ MEETING

Experts examined closely the draft legal instrument in line with relevant legal documents, considering international and regional legal instruments as well as specific security, legal institutional and cultural characteristics of member states of the standing Advisory Committee. Meeting participants were selected on the basis of their recognised expertise on the questions concerning SALW, their knowledge of the sub-region, practical experience on drafting and or implementing such legal instruments.

OUTCOME OF THE MEETING

The secretariat had to study the contributions made by the experts both in their written comments and presentations and during the interactive discussions. The intention was for the contributions to be incorporated into the working papers prepared by the secretariat, which subsequently will be discussed by government experts and ministers at the 29th Ministerial Meeting of the UN standing Advisory committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.

IANSA MEMBERS’ VIEWS

Prior to the meeting in Togo some IANSA members, including the Executive Director, Rebecca Peters, Policy Officier Alun Howard, Africa Coordinator Joseph Dube, Grip Expert, made their views on the draft legal document. These views were to be expressed at the meeting by their member Justine Kwachu Kumche, Executive Director of Women in Alternative Action Cameroon. These suggestions came to her through a tele conference and emails.

Invited as expert on gender and small arms, Justine Kwachu made a presentation on the gender perspective and the role of civil society in the control of SALW. Her presentation drew attention to the work IANSA, Amnesty International, Oxfam EOWAS as well as other CSO’s are doing on the field to stop or at least limit the impact of SALW on Human security development.

Among other views considered, were the suggestions of having an overall purpose of the instruments being preventing gun violence and the first article to explain the purpose of the instrument:

  • The view of supporting ATT was approved;
  • Discussions were centred on arms transfers;
  • Transparency and exchange of information;
  • Establishment and operation of sub-regional small arms registers and data bases;
  • Operational mechanisms;
  • Management and safe guarding of stocks and small arms and light weapons;
  • Marking and tracing small arms and light weapons;
  • The law and regulations on small arms and light weapons;
  • Re-enforcement and harmonisation of the law on SALW;
  • Institutional arrangements and implementation at National and sub-regional levels;
  • Role, structure, location and operation of national commissions/focal points;
  • Role of civil society organisations;
  • Role of sub-regional bodies (ECCAS vs ECOWAS).
Source:
Women in Alternative Action Cameroon