A serious challenge to the stability, peace and security that Liberia now enjoys, is the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The ECOWAS convention which seeks to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in West Africa was adopted by Heads of Member States ten years ago and since then a number of community based project have been initiated in country for its implementation.
The other day, I was reminded by one of the volunteer peace messengers of an old Liberian expression that goes like this, “Baboon will share cola nut” which translates literarily to ‘brutality looms when peace settlement fails.” Similarly, we subject ourselves to crisis, if we keep our small arms and light weapons.
Nearly every day, in countries where small arms are not under strict control, people are killed or injured as a result of uncontrolled small arms and light weapons.
We are all witnesses to the current happenings in France, Belgium, Mali and Tunisia. Back home, we have noticed the rise in armed robberies and the use of small weapons.
The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, known as LiNCSA is responsible to registering and marking all small arms and weapons. The LiNCSA is established to help keep Liberia safe and secure.
In order to prevent large-scale emergencies, we need to strengthen the core capacities of our Army, Police, Immigration (BIN) Customs and Corrections officers to detect and respond rapidly to small arms transfers. Turning blind eyes to small arms and light weapons transfers in particularly porous border crossing, as we most often tend to do with our neighbors is never the way to control small arms. According to the Chairman of LiNCSA, “It is our ardent hope that there will be greater cooperation amongst state security institutions for the consolidation of peace in the country.”
The worst sin an individual can commit is to harm others with small arms intended only for trained military personnel. We need to play a role in the control of small arms by reporting it. As young people, it’s crucial that weapons are not transported into Liberia and Liberians should not keep arms in their homes.
The challenges ahead are huge but not insurmountable. There is the need to put in place legal and regulatory frameworks for effective small arms control, build capacity of security agencies and hot spot communities as well as manage our border communities.
If you observe, hear or see anything that risks the peace of this country, report it to security forces that have the mandate to deal with it. Illicit possession of small arms is illegal and should be strongly discouraged among everyone particularly young people.
In the months ahead, it’s particularly important that the lessons learned from other countries and the synergies among participating countries are translated into concrete actions. An awareness campaign is in the offing for the control of small arms and the support of all Liberians would be needed to ensure a successful campaign. The control of small arms and light weapons in Liberia is a matter of national priority.
Until next week when we continue our series on the involvement of youth in peace and security issues, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace Prevail in our generation.