Liberia: Collaborate to End Proliferation of Small Arms in ECOWAS Region


Monrovia – The 11th Annual National Commissions on Small Arms (NATCOM) meeting of the ECOWAS 15 Member States kicked off Tuesday, November 26, in Monrovia with a call on member states to collaborate to end the proliferation of small arms in West Africa.

Liberia’s Chairperson on Small Arms, Att’y Teklo Maxwell Grigsby said hosting the meeting is Liberia is timely because there have been many gains made by the Liberian Small Arms Commission.

He said there is a need to accelerate mechanisms that will ensure arms control across the West Africa Region.

He said collaborating efforts to stop the spread of arms in West Africa is important and participants at the meeting must join hands to do so.

“West Africa is tired of war and now sees peace as a way to unite every one. 

According to Grigsby, the Liberian Government’s objective is not to just ensure effective weapon and ammunition management and accountability, but to meet other international standards something he admitted is not in competition with other countries.

“We particularly thank ECOWAS for selecting Liberia to host this meeting; we think it is very timely especially at a time when our Commission is moving in full flesh comprehensively to inspect of all armories,” Grigsby disclosed.

“Liberia is concerned about issued in the Sahel region. Looking at the map where Mali is positioned, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are also in potential threat; especially so looking at the history of the Mano River countries. They suffered unrest that caused young children to be called disadvantaged youths.”

He said the former child soldiers and drug users are the next problem that the Mano River Union countries will face in the future if nothing concrete is done to rehabilitate them. 

The small armed conference at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town saw the participants reviewing the recommendations of the Niamey Technical Review Meeting of the 10th Anniversary of ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) held this year in Niger, and to discuss implementation priorities for 2020 to 2030, as well as ensure networking for partnership and resource mobilization in the fight against SALW.

The decision for Liberia to host the NATCOMs meeting was received by the majority Member states at the ended of their September Technical Review Meeting of the 10th Anniversary of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) held in Niamey, Niger.

Representing President Dr. George Manneh Weah at the Meeting was Security Advisor Jefferson Karmon, who appreciated ECOWAS for hosting the meeting in Liberia

He said despite the effort  and progress made by ECOWAS in the fight against  small arms and light weapons, the proliferation of small arms continues to harm the sub-region.

He stressed that the fight against small arms requires a collective approach from all stakeholders in the ECOWAS region.

ECOWAS Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo told the delegates that proliferation of small arms is causing serious problem in the region with over 2000 attacks and many deaths and displacements of people from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, which has caused challenges for the West Africa Region and said it calls for attention.

According to him, the situation calls for concern and must be addressed collectively with a more effective way.

 He added that the problem of the proliferation of small arms must be addressed holistically as he commended the Liberia Small Arms Commission for registering all of the security arms in Liberia something he said must be seen as a success story of other countries.

The German Ambassador to Liberia said his country is committed to helping Africa end illegal use of small arms because African fleeing the effect of small arms end up on their borders in Europe.

Ambassador Habert Jager said his government and the European Union stand with West Africa to support development initiative.

This year NATCOM Meeting was sponsored by ECOWAS with support from the Government of Germany through the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). It brought together heads and Permanent Secretaries of National Small Arms Commissions in the 15 ECOWAS Member States. Also at the meeting were a number of development partners including the European Union, UNDP, Small Arms Survey, UNIDIR, GIZ, MAG among others.

It can be recalled that in 1998 the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the sub-region declared a Moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of arms and ammunition as the first practical action by ECOWAS to galvanize regional platform for tackling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The regional body also in 2006 adopted the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

ECOWAS Member States consider the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to constitute a major threat to peace and stability within the region. More importantly, ECOWAS is deeply concerned at the flow of small arms and light weapons into West Africa and strongly recognize the need to control arms transfers, and to ensure the need to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacture, excessive accumulation, trafficking, detention and use of small arms and light weapons.

The convergence of West African leaders on arms control in Liberia signifies the country’s preparedness and commitment to fight against all forms of illicit arms trade in the African Region. The NATCOM meeting boosted ongoing efforts in the consolidation of peace and stability in Liberia.