What measures have Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states agreed to take to counter the proliferation of small arms and light weapons? In this convention, ECOWAS member states agree to control, regulate and/or prohibit the transfer, manufacture and possession of small arms and light weapons. They also agree to take measures to promote transparency, cooperation and exchange of information among member states.
ECOWAS member states consider the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to constitute a major threat to peace and stability within ECOWAS member states. They are deeply concerned at the flow of small arms and light weapons into West Africa and recognise the need to control arms transfers. They recognise the need to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacture, excessive accumulation, trafficking, detention and use of small arms and light weapons. In light of this, and recognising the principles and obligations contained in previous agreements, member states agree to the articles contained in this convention.
The objectives of this convention are:
- to prevent and combat the excessive and destabilising accumulation of small arms and light weapons within ECOWAS;
- to continue efforts for the control of small arms and light weapons within ECOWAS;
- to consolidate the gains of the Declaration of the Moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms and its code of conduct;
- to promote trust between member states through concerted and transparent action on the control of small arms and light weapons within ECOWAS;
- to build the capacities of the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat and member states in their efforts to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons; and,
- to promote the exchange of information and cooperation among member states.
To achieve these objectives, ECOWAS member states agree to the following, amongst other measures:
- Member states shall ban the transfer of small arms and light weapons into, from or through their territory. They shall ban, without exception, transfers to non-state actors that are not explicitly authorised by the importing member state.
- Member states can request exemption from the ban on transfers in order to meet legitimate security needs or participate in peace support operations. Exemption will be refused if the transfer violates international legal and humanitarian obligations.
- Member states shall undertake to control the manufacture of small arms and light weapons within their territories. They shall regulate the activities of local manufacturers and adopt policies to reduce the manufacture of small arms and light weapons.
- Member states shall establish national computerised registers and databases of small arms and light weapons. They shall undertake to establish a sub-regional database and register and shall provide all the information for necessary its operation.
- Member states shall prohibit the possession, use and sale of light weapons to civilians and regulate civilian possession, use and sale of small arms. They undertake to implement a strict control regime for civilian possession of small arms.
- Member states shall take the necessary measures to ensure the safe and effective management, storage and security of their stockpiles of small arms and light weapons. They shall collect and/or destroy surplus, seized, unmarked or illicitly held weapons.