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UN Adopts Sierra Leone’s Resolution to Regulate Global Arms Trade

By Mohamed Sheriff

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution submitted by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative in Switzerland, Dr Lansana Gberie, as President of the 7th Conference of States Parties (CSP7) of the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade and movement of conventional weapons.

The resolution was adopted on the 6th of November in New York with 150 votes in favour against one state. Remarkably, 87 countries signed formally as co-sponsors of the resolution after its submission to the UN. The co-sponsors were China, Switzerland, the UK, France, Costa Rica, Peru, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa.

The ATT is the key instrument for regulating the global arms trade, covering the production, movement and stockpiling of weapons, as well as salient human rights issues in armed conflict.

This year’s resolution, which built upon the previous year’s, focused on Ambassador Gberie’s chosen theme for his presidency “strengthening efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and ensure efficient stockpile management.”  

Dr Gberie, who previously worked as Coordinator of the United Nations Panel of Experts monitoring the arms embargo on Liberia, reasoned that more often than not, weapons legally acquired by States end up in the hands of forces not meant for, like rebel armies and criminal elements. The Ambassador noted that illicit transfers and diversions from official stockpiles have become major issues in conventional arms regulation in many countries in Africa, particularly in the Sahel.

“As global anxiety over international security continues to grow, this theme has gained great resonance. His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, a specialist in Peace Studies, has made promoting global peace and security one of the centrepieces of his administration.”

Before the adoption of the resolution, Ambassador Gberie and team held several consultations in Geneva and New York to ensure meaningful discussions on the various aspects of the Treaty, and in particular on the new languages introduced by CSP7.

Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war that lasted for 11 years was fuelled by small arms and light weapons and as a nation, he said it is particularly important to further increase the international momentum for the eradication of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and effective stockpile management

“Following the adoption of the draft resolution, CSP7 Presidency intends to intensify its diplomatic efforts to properly regulate the international trade in conventional arms, particularly small arms and light weapons.”

The vote is a confirmation of the strong support Member States have for the chosen theme of Ambassador Gberie’s Presidency.

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