A delegation from the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) of the African Union Commission (AUC) held a consultation meeting with the African Group Experts of the UN First Committee on 19 October 2023. The meeting, which was chaired by the Team Coordinator of the Group, Mr. Mahmoud M. Lawal, was held in the Mandela Conference Hall of the African Union Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York, USA.
The meeting was intended to inform the Members of the Group on the efforts by the Commission to support AU Member States elaborate a Common African Commission on the Fourth Review Conference of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects to be held in June 2024, in New York. The efforts to develop the Common position are pursuant to decision Assembly/AU/Dec.843(XXXVI) of the Thirty-Sixth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union that was held from 18 to 19 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which directed the AU Commission to, among others, “… initiate a process of elaborating a common African position”.
The Experts were also updated on steps taken to revise the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Policy Framework, which is expected to incorporate areas such as conflict prevention, early recovery, and transitions into the Policy Framework. The meeting discussed PCRD critical role in shaping the AU approach to rebuild societies emerging from conflict. The Chair welcomed the work being done by the AU Commission in developing a draft Common African Position, underscoring the importance for Africa to reaffirm its commitment in fostering comprehensive solutions and strengthening durable and sustained peace in the continent. “Our meeting will focus on the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition and the importance of an African Common Position on the upcoming UN 4th Review Conference on Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. We need to galvanize an African Common Position that emphasizes the importance of effective arms control, border management, and the promotion of responsible and transparent arms transfers, among others” Emphasized Mr. Lawal.
Speaking on behalf of H.E Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Head of the Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, the Charge d’ affairs Mr. Ayoup Elrashdi, stated that, the consultation meeting is an integral part of the AU Commission’s response for Africa’s need for a holistic approach and strengthened mechanisms to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in Africa. He added that, it also reflects the AU commitment to fostering sustainable peace in post-conflict countries, and ensuring that Africa is in the right path towards recovery and resilience. “Africa has long been affected by the devastating consequences of the uncontrolled flow of small arms and light weapons, which is fuelling conflicts, undermining peace and security, impeding development, and spreading violence against innocent civilians” underlined the Charge d’affairs.
Mr. Ayoup recalled that, during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU-AU in 2013, the AU Heads of State and Government pledged to silence the guns and to end all wars in the continent by 2020. The initiative was then extended to 2030. “Silencing the Guns recognizes the significant role that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons plays in fuelling conflicts and instability in Africa. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that these weapons, when find their way into the hands of various actors, resulting in loss of life, population displacement, and the disruption of livelihoods. It is against this backdrop, in May 2022 the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) directed the African Union Commission to elaborate a continental strategy on the fight against illicit firearms in Africa, including emerging weapon systems” noted the Charge d’affairs. This, he said is expected to include African Common Position in preparation for the 4th Review Conference for the UN Programme of Action to be held in 2024, within the spirit of the “Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation, and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons” of 2000. “Our deliberation today is therefore in line with Member States Directives to set the groundwork for the fourth review conference on the PoA on small arms and light weapons, which will take place in New York in June 2024”.
Participants at the meeting listened to a briefing on the Open-Ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition, presented by Mr. Yasee Lagardien, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN followed by a briefing on the Common Position on the upcoming UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons 4th Review Conference, presented by Mr. Peter Otim and Mr. Christopher Kayoshe, AUC Ag Head of Division – Disarmament , Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) / Security Sector Reform (SSR) and finally a briefing was presented on the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Strategy Revision Process, by Mr. Adil Elbadoussi, AUC-PAPS Senior Policy Adviser.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union (AU).