The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), has held a 2023 Regional Disarmament Seminar in Accra.
The seminar aimed to deliberate on developments in the fields of disarmament and arms control with a focus on gender.
The three-day seminar seeks to enhance member states awareness of their obligation to disarmament instruments while serving as a platform for member states to exchange ideas.and share best practices.
It would also create the platform for ultimately bridging gaps in understanding and promoting a culture of disarmament, gender mainstreaming, non-proliferation, and arms control throughout the ECOWAS region.
Mr. Robin Geiss, Director of UNIDIR, stated that their mission as an autonomous institution was to commit to innovative research and promote inclusive dialogue aligned with the UN's goal of fostering a more secure and peaceful world through collective action.
He stated that UNIDIR research showed that there was an intimate relationship between weapons and sexual violence in conflict, and in countries where disaggregated data on weapons was available, between 70 percent and 90 percent of incidents of conflict-related sexual violence were reported to involve weapons, particularly firearms.
Mr. Samuel Williams Yeboah, Executive Secretary of Ghana's National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), also explained the connection between the availability of conventional arms and gender- based violence.
He said it was essential to recognise these linkages and work towards disarmament to create a safer environmentespecially for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by such violence.
MrYeboah emphasised allocating budgets to empower women, support survivors of gender- based
violence, and promote gender equality within the security sector to align with a comprehensive approach to addressing the repercussions of arms proliferation.
"It is crucial to invest in such programmes to mitigate the impact of violence and ensure a safer and more equitable society," he said
Madam Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director for the Ministry of the Interior, also reiterated at the opening ceremony that conventional arms proliferation is interconnected with various factors, including criminality, resource competition, inter-community tensionsand broader security concerns.
She said recognising these links is essential for addressing the root causes of armed conflicts and promoting development, stability, and peace in affected regions.
She emphasised steps, including updating legislative frameworks, improving stockpile management, implementing weapons marking programmes, and strengthening border controls, as initiatives that could significantly contribute to reducing the risks associated with illicit arms trafficking and ensuring a safer environment for all.
"Collaborative efforts among states and international support will be vital in achieving these goals," she said.
She encouraged all participants to ask questions and provide their analysis, best practices, and recommendations during the seminar to tackle the global security issues that were being faced today