The first Pan-African action against trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) was officially launched in early 2010 with support from the EU. The three-year initiative will support peace and security in the region by actively fighting against the proliferation of firearms and explosive materials in Africa.
The first Pan-African action against trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is being funded by the EU through the Instrument for Stability (IfS). It will provide some €3.3 million to the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) (www.recsasec.org/) in order to reinforce coordinated action for the elimination of SALW trafficking.
In particular, the action will aim to:
• Raise awareness among national and regional institutions and civil society about legislative and institutional aspects;
• Establish and foster National Focal Points to develop and implement national action plans;
• Strengthen co-operation between African regional police chiefs' organisations and national, regional and continental law-enforcement agencies.
A steering committee (comprising regional economic communities, the regional police chiefs’ co-operation offices and other relevant international organisations) has been established to monitor implementation of the project.
Better control for improved security
Small arms and light weapons are easily acquired and used in armed conflict by states and non-state actors. They are cheap and easily accessible, simple to operate, highly mobile, easy to repair or replace, and highly lethal.
Most illicit SALW are initially legally produced and traded weapons that are later diverted, sold, given away or stolen – many from government arsenals. The trade can be reduced through:
• Effective government controls over their transfer;
• Export and import control;
• Timely marking and tracing of weapons;
• Reliable record keeping, safe storage;
• Stockpile security;
• Destruction of surplus weapons.
Civilians hold 79% of all weapons circulating in Africa, which seriously undermines the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, helps support illegitimate nodes of power and instability, and undermines governance. It also threatens the success of development aid, the safety of development workers and raises the costs of delivering and sustaining such aid.
Africa is the continent which has suffered and is still suffering most from conflicts, instability and weak governance. It is therefore the continent most concerned by firearms-related national, regional, continental and global regulatory instruments.