The African Union (AU) has called for a concerted effort to combat trade in illicit small arms and light weapons which continue to cause untold suffering and pain, threatening the peace and security of the region.
This was disclosed during the 6th Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapon. Speaking at the meeting, the AU’s head of Defense and Security Division, Dr. Tarek A. Sharif said, ‘‘Africa is among the regions most affected by the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons. These weapons have caused unspeakable death and suffering over the decades and remain a serious impediment to peace, security, stability, and development on the continent and globally.’‘
The AU called on its international partners to also boost their support to the fight. While commending the support provided through the UN Disarmament Trust Fund and UNSCAR, the AU noted that these funds do not match the existing and growing needs and gaps.
According to the United Nations Office on Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), ‘‘Illicit flows of small arms and light weapons undermine security and the rule of law. They are often a factor behind the forced displacement of civilians and massive human rights violations.’‘
Africa has been prone to small arms proliferation which has in turn resulted in political and social unrests in most parts of the continent. Reinforcing existing small arms treaties at the national, sub-regional and the continental levels are seen as important to maintain stability and peace in Africa.