Accra, March 14, GNA - Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Minister of Defence, on Tuesday said the easy availability of small arms and light weapons around the world had become a persistent source of danger to nations although there was no immediate danger of another world war. He said although the UN Security Council continually held meetings on peace talks and the prevention of large-scale invasions and acts of aggression within States and across borders there were still fears among a number of nations.
"From country to country, the fear now is from irregular and uncoordinated rebels, armed robbers and bandits, who use small arms for all manner of criminal and anti-social purposes." Dr Addo-Kufuor was addressing participants attending a three-day national strategic conference on small arms in Accra, under the theme; "Combating the Proliferations of Small Arms and Light Weapons". It was organized by the Ministry of the Interior and Ghana National Commission on Small Arms in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"Across the globe, from country to country, the fear of unprovoked attack or conflict is much less likely from regular security agencies that are disciplined and controlled. "The fear now is from those who use small arms for all manner of criminal and anti-social purposes." Dr Addo-Kufuor said the UN had been holding a series of meetings around the world trying to sensitise governments to agree on a concerted common response to this threat to peace. Ghana, he said, had set up a Commission on Small Arms, which had successfully completed a nationwide sensitization programme against the dangers of proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Dr Addo-Kufuor said the aim of the conference was to produce a strategic plan of action to serve as the basic national road map for the campaign against small arms. "We need to rid our streets of crime. We need to ensure a safer and peaceful neighbourhood for our people. We need to guarantee a peaceful environment for our citizens. "Our aim should not be to suppress the technical know-how acquired by our craftsmen over decades so that the nation becomes totally dependent on foreign source for all types of small arms. Our aim should be to monitor and control production and keep these weapons in responsible hands."
Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, said the NEPAD Secretariat was working at removing barriers to trade in the West Africa Sub-Region but this was not a leeway for the movement of small arms across borders. "As we make way for a borderless ECOWAS, we hope that we would not provide an outlet for smuggling of arms so that we would all survive in peace and stability," he said. La C=F4te d'Ivoire, he noted, was the only trouble spot as of now in the Sub-Region and there was, therefore, the hope that if small arms were to be curbed the much desired peace for the Sub-Region could be achieved.
Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said the problem of proliferation of small arms and light weapons was of utmost concern to the Sub-Region in the definition and implementation of the policy to promote collective security and sustainable peace in the area. The challenge, he noted, was how to build a sustainable capacity within ECOWAS Member-States to develop comprehensive approaches and response capability that placed the challenge of small arms and light weapons in the broader context of conflict prevention, development and good governance.
Mr Gordon Weatherwell, British High Commissioner, said the British Government was committed to reducing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the threat they posed and the damage the caused. "In line with this focus, we have given the UNDP Small Arms and Reduction Mobilization Unit 7.5 million pounds to support their work on collecting and destroying weapons. "In Ghana 500,000 dollars of this funding supported the setting up of the nation's Commission on Small Arms, a baseline study on small arms proliferation and the establishment of a computerized firearms registry," he said.