By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Army Forces (GAF) is currently hosting the Regional Training in Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) for security agencies in ECOWAS Member States.
The training is designed to improve stockpile management and security at the regional level based on the ECOWAS roadmap on PSSM.
The training will provide course participants with practical knowledge to improve physical security and management of national stockpiles of arms and ammunition based on the ECOWAS Roadmap on PSSM and to promote the effective implementation of Article 16 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The main objective of the training is to improve the knowledge and skills of participants on PSSM, increase the capacity of Member States to fight the illicit proliferation of small arms and their ammunition, improve course participant’s technical competence to prevent diversion from government-owned stockpiles as well as unintended explosions and promote the application of international best practices, norms, and standards for the security and management of state-owned arms and ammunition stockpiles.
Mr Kofi Mark, on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, said the weaknesses observed in ECOWAS member states with respect to norms and standards governing the management of the stockpiles of arms and ammunition legally held by the States, lead to the diversion of these weapons and ammunition that feed the illicit market and represents a threat to human security and stability of States in the region.
“The ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, adopted in Abuja, Nigeria on June 14, 2006, pays particular attention to the management and security of weapons stocks in Article 16 by calling for Member States to take specific actions in this area,” he said.
He said the political sensitivity and technical complexity of the management of weapons and security stocks, combined with the importance of the issue in terms of the effective control of state-owned weapons and ammunition, require a clear policy, well-identified actions, and effective planning of activities to guide the ECOWAS Commission and Member States.
He said ECOWAS is committed to addressing security instability in its region and their legal framework is providing instruments that will help to address those issues.
According to him, this roadmap is being implemented through a set of activities to improve Physical Security and stockpile management in Member States. These include the inventory of armouries and evaluation of the level of compliance with good practices in physical security and stockpile management, the provision of equipment for the management of SALW and for the destruction of obsolete weapons, the training of personnel in charge of stockpile management, and the regular destruction of obsolete weapons.
“The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the National Commission on Small Arms of The Gambia and the Bonn International Center for Conflicts Studies (BICC), the technical partner of the project, is organizing the second training for the 2023 cycle of the regional training on PSSM in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia from 30th October to 10th November 2023,” he said.
Mr Sering Modou Njie, the Minister of Defence, said the training is the most efficient way to strengthen and promote sub-regional peace and security.
“The successful implementation of basic security standards will help to keep our region away from criminals and terrorists and will promote peace and security,” he said.
He said building security standards within the sub-region will help promote security and crime management and also promote efficiency in arms management. “It will also improve safety measures, accountability, and transparency in the handling of arms and ammunition to reduce their frequent misuses,” he added.
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