The Small Arms Division of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in collaboration with Conflict Armament Research (CAR) commenced a two-day independent experts workshop on 4th March 2020, in Abuja, Nigeria in order to review the guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Article 19 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms which seeks the reduction of the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the region.
Speaking on behalf of General Francis Behanzin, the Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Ahoba Piex Joseph stated that the workshop is a significant milestone for the ECOWAS Commission as it is the first step in efforts aimed at having SOPs and guidelines towards the experimentation of the implementation of Article 19 of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW.
“The tracing of illicit Small Arms and light Weapons is a key mechanism for national and regional efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit circulation, trafficking and proliferation of SALW. The ECOWAS Commission is committed to strengthening the ability of its Member States to cooperate in identifying and tracing illicit SALW in a timely and reliable manner”, he said.
He added that the workshop on SOPs and guidelines contain procedures and methodologies related to the identification, documentation and tracing of arms and ammunition as well as the regional arms tracing request system with the ECOWAS Commission serving as the regional clearing house.
Speaking on behalf of CAR, Mike Lewis stated that, Conflict Armament Research has been working with ECOWAS to train relevant agencies on arms identification, tracing and documentation of seized arms in the pilot phase of the project which commenced in February 2018 in Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
The project is being financed by the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulations (UNSCAR) and receiving technical assistance from the German development agency, GIZ.
Following the conclusion of the workshop which consists of participants from ECOWAS Member States, the revised SOPs and guidelines will be submitted to undergo the ECOWAS process and procedures towards becoming regional legal document.