Friday, September 29

ECOWAS Experts Meet to Review Arms Licensing Guidelines

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By Fatou Sillah 

The ECOWAS Commission organized a meeting of governmental experts in Lagos, Nigeria from July 25-27, 2023, to review and validate the draft study report and guidelines on civilian possession and licensing of arms. The meeting was held as part of ECOWAS’s efforts to reduce illicit trafficking and fight against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW).

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The study was commissioned to examine the national practices of ECOWAS member states regarding the authorization, permitting, and licensing of civilians who bear arms. The main objective of the meeting was to ensure that the draft study report and guidelines are aligned with the obligations imposed by Article 14 of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW, their ammunition and other related materials

“The study generated pertinent evidenced-based data that needed to be verified, reviewed and validated by governmental experts. This meeting attracted relevant government experts with requisite experiences in law, law enforcement and arms control, and it was preceded by an independent expert meeting that took place in April 2023 in Abuja. Thus, this meeting was to further expose the documents to additional scrutiny as well as to secure the national ownership of the entire process,” ECOWAS said in a statement.  

Ms. Celine Lhoste, representing the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to continue supporting ECOWAS’s efforts to prevent and manage security threats in the region.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Claude Kondor, representing the Resident Representative of ECOWAS in the Gambia, Her Excellency Mrs. Miatta Lily French, said that ECOWAS has been at the forefront of efforts to achieve sustainable peace and security in its member states.

“Without peace and security, development and economic integration of the entire region will be very difficult to achieve,” he stated. 

Mr. Kondor disclosed that the ECOWAS region, once plagued by warlords and conflict entrepreneurs, underwent a transformation through the implementation of several protocols. These protocols were specifically designed to tackle the multitude of security challenges that had emerged. Among these crucial measures were the 1999 Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security; the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of 2001; and the 2008 ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, along with other significant documents.

Mr. Kondor emphasized that the objectives and expected outcomes of the In-Mission training are well-suited to equip staff officers with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their operational duties correctly. The training will also help to ensure that the operating procedures of both ECOWAS Headquarters and the ESF Mission Headquarters are harmonized, standardized, and documented. This will simplify information flow and make it easier for staff officers to access the information they need.

The meeting ended with closing remarks, in which the participants were thanked for their valuable contributions. The study report and guidelines/templates were also adopted.

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