Ghana urged to sign treaty on Arms Trade

Mr Barfuor Amoa, President of the West Africa Network on Small Arms (WAANSA), has appealed to government to ratify the United Nations Convention on Arms and Trade Treaty (ATT), to ensure effective control on the proliferation of arms in the country.

Among other things, the Treaty would to a large extent,  ensure effective control on the proliferation of arms in the ECOWAS sub-region and also ensure that member-countries only produce and sell weapons only after meeting specific criteria spelt out in the Treaty.

“If the purchase of weapons by a member country is likely to have any negative effect on another member country, the treaty would in effect prohibit the purchase of those weapons”, he added.

Mr Amoa made the appeal during a meeting with the media and civil societies to brief them on effort by WAANSA executives to lobby government to sign the ATT.

He noted that so far 193 countries across the globe had rectified the treaty, adding that 50 more states were needed to rectify it to make it enforceable.

He noted that Ghana had been a shining example for countries in the ECOWAS sub-region and across the world, adding that Ghana’s endorsement of the ATT would further enhance its image.

He said executives of WAANSA had been able to meet with the Parliamentary Select Committee, and Ministers of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence, in an effort to court their support for the ratification when cabinet met to deliberate on the ATT.

“We have also been able to meet with the Ghana National Commission for Small Arms (GNACSA), to ensure coordinated efforts that Ghana signs the ATT”, he said.

Lt. Col. Seth Ohene-Asare (rtd), Chairman, GNACSA, said the Commission which had its membership comprising institutions such as, the Military and Police, was coordinating seriously to ensure that Ghana got hooked onto the ATT.

He disclosed that GNACSA had sent a draft copy of the Treaty to the Ministry of the Interior, and expressed the hope that it would be ratified when Cabinet sat to deliberate on it.

He said the GNACSA had been able to form Associations for Blacksmiths in the country at the regional level, in an effort to ensure that the manufacture of local small arms was effectively controlled.

He noted the AT, when ratified by Ghana, would enable the country to properly regulate the activities of individuals and blacksmiths who manufacture small arms with the assistance of the UN and other member countries.

Mr John Poku, Programmes Coordinator, Regional Small Arms and Light Weapons, Kofi Annan International Peace keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), said the Centre had since 2008 organised a lot of workshops on stockpiles and small arms with the aim of ensuring the safe usage in the ECOWAS sub-region.

He intimated that although, Ghana did not have any orthodox means of weapons production, yet the country had been flooded by the proliferation of illegal small arms.

He called on all relevant institutions to join WAANSA in the fight to ensure that Ghana signed the ATT.

Some of the countries in West Africa which had signed the ATT are Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.