IANSA Africa Update: January 2011

This is the first of our quarterly Updates on IANSA in Africa to keep you informed of progress on the continent. This issue focuses on a project coordinated by The Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), entitled ‘The Fight Against the Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of Firearms in Africa’. 

RECSA has received funding for three years from the European Commission to coordinate this project with the overall objective of supporting the fight against the proliferation of firearms and explosives in Africa.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. To support the Africa-European Union (EU) strategic partnership in the fight against illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms and explosive materials through enhanced implementing capacity.
  2. To raise the awareness and knowledge of relevant institutional and civil society actors on the legislative and institutional aspects of the fight against the illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms with the view to foster the establishment of National Focal points (NFP) and the development National Action Plans (NAPs), where they are not in place and implementation where they are already in place,
  3. To strengthen the African Regional Police Chiefs Organisations (RPCOs) and the capacity of and cooperation between national, regional and continental law enforcement agencies to fight cross-border illicit trafficking in firearms and explosive materials.

RECSA will also assist Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other regional and international  organisations, Regional Police Chiefs, Members of Parliament and civil society organisations (CSOs) to build capacity and synergy. The project is envisaged to lay a foundation for the implementation of the African Union Strategy on Small Arms. The project will create an awareness and knowledge about relevant institutions and CSOs involved in legislative and institutional aspects of fighting against illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms.

Meetings

On the 1st of March 2010, RECSA organised a “Kick off Seminar” in Nairobi, Kenya to launch and endorse the project. The meeting was attended by representatives from the European Union (EU); the African Union (AU); the United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and the Regional Police Chiefs Organisations (RPCOs). The outcomes of the seminar were:

  1. The endorsement of the Project by the participants from respective regions who committed to support the implementation of the project.
  2. The constitution of the project steering committee as stipulated in the project proposal.
  3. The seminar recommended that, the Community of Sahel- Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the Union du Magreb Arabe (UMA) be included in the project as full members.

RECSA has organised 3 further seminars on the project:

  1. ‘Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa and Bordering States – First Pan-African Project on Small Arms and Light Weapons’, in Entebbe, Uganda, from 20 to 21 May 2010
  2. ‘AU-EU Small Arms Project’ - ECOWAS Regional Seminar in Accra, Ghana, from 6 to 7 September 2010.
  3. ‘AU - EU project on the fight against the illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms in Africa’ - ECCAS regional seminar, in Yaounde, Cameroon,  from 6 to 7 December 2010

Civil Society involvement

RECSA recognises civil society participation as important in the implementation of this project, and the plans for the project period include activities and opportunities for civil society, such as:

  1. Four regional seminars for civil society will be organised where they can share experiences and information on new opportunities for cooperation with the regional bodies dealing with small arms in their respective areas,
  2. Funding will be available for ‘Unique Civil Society Initiatives’. This will be awarded through a competitive process and winning interventions will be funded to a maximum of Euro10,000 per region per year.

Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs)

RECSA has so far drafted MoUs for ECOWAS and ECCAS. Another MoU with SADC should be finalised in the first quarter of 2011. IANSA will be requesting a meeting with RECSA to discuss the possibility of an MoU and how IANSA could be involved in the EU/RECSA project.