Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ghana to ratify two Conventions on small arms

Ghana is to ratify the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and Convention on Cluster Munitions to quell robberies and armed-violence in the West African sub-region.Mr Cletus Avoka, Minister of Interior, gave the assurance at the opening of a two-day workshop organized by government and co-supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ghana, and the ECOWAS Small Arms Control Programme (ECOSAP), in Accra on Saturday. The Interior Minister, who did not disclose when the Conventions would be ratified, said preparations were far advanced for cabinet to consider the issue.Mr Avoka said the ratification could enable Ghana to play a leading role in regional and sub-regional initiatives on small arms control, peace building and security sector governance. He reiterated government's commitment to improving the enforcement capacity of security services as well as offering alternative livelihoods to the local manufactures of small arms and to undertake other legitimate and viable businesses. Mr Avoka said "We as a nation have resolved to ensure that the right environment is created so as to make committing crimes less attractive to our people".He expressed the hope that the workshop would address the menace of exchange of illegal small arms for goods and services across borders and within ECOWAS states as well as to curb incidence of smuggling of arms through the ports.Dr Kwasi Apea-Kubi, Deputy Minister of the Interior, called for concerted efforts, especially among people in West African countries where small arms and light weapons were easily trafficked across borders, in order to combat and eradicate the illicit trade. "It is when concerted efforts are harnessed from national, sub-regional, regional and the international community that the small arms menace can be effectively tackled on a sustainable basis," he said. Mr Baffour Amoa, President of the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA), expressed concern that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons could stifle African governments from meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015."How can we attain the MDGs when conflicts in Africa continue to be fueled by small and light weapons," he asked.Mr Amoa called on the participants to brainstorm in order to "produce workable ideas that would improve control strategies and policies on illicit arms."Mr Mohamed Coulibaly, Programme Manager of ECOSAP, lauded government's efforts at providing border surveillance equipments for the Ghana Immigration Service as well as supporting the Ghana Police Service in recovering illicit arms to strengthen security in the country. The workshop, under the theme: "Capacity Building for a Better Control of Small Arms," is expected to help participants produce an annual action plan as well as to identify projects aimed at reducing armed violence and proliferation of illicit weapons among ECOWAS member states.

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