MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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Almost ten year ago, the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapon (LiNCSA) was created in compliance with Article 18 of ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons adopted by Heads of Member States on June 14, 2006.
Until very recently, the work of Messengers of Peace (MOP) concentrated largely on peace advocacy with little emphasis on its security components, which remains the flipside of the coin. During our usual early Monday morning dialogue among peace messengers, it hits us:
Most of the young volunteer peace messengers working on various peace initiatives are unaware that LiNCSA is the sole authority responsible for coordinating arms marking, record-keeping and tracing in Liberia. The limited awareness of young people is further compounded by the dangers linked to the proliferation of small arms in the country.
At Messengers of Peace-Liberia, it is our intention to educate young minds on staying away from guns and crime. Surrogate markers for sustainable peace include low crime rates; regulated gun control laws; well established food security; improved access to health, and; education programs.
Ongoing global events in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and most recently France, clearly show that small arms and light weapons pose serious threats to not just global but to regional peace and stability. There is simply no logic or rationale for the horrific acts of terror committed by those with access to weaponry.
In the critical sphere of peace and security, small arms and light weapons should not be allowed in the hands of unauthorized uniformed security personnel, radicals and extremists. While it is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens, and not the citizens to protect the state, it is also the obligation of every Liberian to protect self and others by serving as vigilantes, and reporting the presence as well as movement of small arms in their communities.
The role of the Liberian National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (LiNCSA) to promote a gun free state and the sustenance of lasting peace and stability in Liberia through a robust Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) control program can only be accomplished through the active participation of everyone. There is a need to sensitize the public and encourage their participation.
While continuing to build on media advocacy for peace, the targets of a national sensitization program would include calls for frequent consultations between volatile as well as vulnerable communities, civil society and the increased presence of LiNCSA officials.
For people, particularly young people living in Liberia, the end objective is a peaceful and secure future. No more guns and no more war in Liberia. As young people we must commit to sustainable peace in Liberia. To do this, we also have a role to play in the control of small arms.
Until next week, when we come to you with another piece on Dialogue Among Peace Messengers and the numerous initiatives in place for the control of small arms and light weapons in Liberia, Peace First! Peace Above All Else!
May Peace Prevail in our generation and beyond!

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