1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa

Civil society to join fight against small arms

[Tanzania] The small arms trade is fuelling conflict across Africa. UN
The small arms trade is fuelling conflict across Africa.
Civil society in Africa must make a concerted effort to join the fight against the proliferation of small arms on the continent, the Africa Peace Forum (APFO) said on Monday. "Security is the responsibility of all members of society," Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, executive director of APFO, told journalists at the official opening of the second regional workshop on small arms, organised by APFO and Project Ploughshares, a Christian organisation funded by the Canadian government. The three-day workshop in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, brings together organisations from states that have signed the Nairobi Declaration of 2000, and civil society representatives from the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa. The Nairobi Declaration is a protocol signed by 11 African states with the aim of preventing, controlling and reducing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, where their use has left at least two million dead and countless maimed over the past 50 years. The 11 signatories are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. "Many stakeholders from member states are not even aware that the Nairobi Declaration has provisions for civil society's involvement in the fight against small arms proliferation," APFO official Josephine Odera told IRIN. "As such, the purpose of this workshop is to raise awareness of civil society's role in the struggle and to find ways to facilitate their involvement." Delivering the keynote address, Girshon Githinji, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the office of the Kenyan president, stressed the need for producer nations to take responsibility for the arms they manufacture. Both producers and buyers, he said, needed a stringent regime to promote accountability and enforceability of the law. "We intend to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms," Richard Mugisha, of the East African Action Network on Small Arms, said. "There is a need for East African nations to harmonise their laws so that the region's increasingly porous boundaries do not become aids to the cross-border small arms trade." The proliferation of illicit weapons in the region has been exacerbated by internal political strife and extreme poverty. According to Professor Stephen Emerson of the US-based African Centre for Strategic Studies, a survey has estimated that there are up to 30 million small arms and light weapons in Africa, only 21 percent of them in government hands. APFO undertakes advocacy on issues related to small arms, creates awareness among civil society and monitors the operation and progress of the Nairobi Declaration.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article

Get the day’s top headlines in your inbox every morning

Starting at just $5 a month, you can become a member of The New Humanitarian and receive our premium newsletter, DAWNS Digest.

DAWNS Digest has been the trusted essential morning read for global aid and foreign policy professionals for more than 10 years.

Government, media, global governance organisations, NGOs, academics, and more subscribe to DAWNS to receive the day’s top global headlines of news and analysis in their inboxes every weekday morning.

It’s the perfect way to start your day.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian today and you’ll automatically be subscribed to DAWNS Digest – free of charge.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.