Liberia: National Security Institutions, Others Benefit from Small Arms Survey Training

Focuses on counter-improvised explosive devices

The Liberia National Commission on Arms (LiNCA) has collaborated with the Small Arms Survey, an international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide state security institutions and key ministries of government training focusing on counter-improvised explosive devices (C-IEDs).

The training, which started on Wednesday, November 22–24, brought together 26 participants from state security agencies, which include the Ministry of Defense, LDEA, AFL, and mining companies operating within Liberia.

The training basically provides support to the Government of Liberia to conduct a C-IED self-assessment of its national framework and capacities, practices, processes, and procedures to determine the maturity of its national counter-IED preparedness and response capabilities. It aims at identifying effective upstream and downstream measures and gaps, as well as challenges in their national system to be addressed.

However, the results of the assessment are expected to support the review, update, or development of a new national roadmap by the Government of Liberia and its partners in strengthening national C-IED frameworks.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the training in Sinkor, Acting LiNCA Chairman Thomas K. Kollie, acknowledged the support of the Small Arms Survey Team in assisting to counter IED and other counter-terrorism efforts across the region. 

He added that the C-IED self-assessment workshop is important at this time considering that in recent years, the use of IED has expanded in the Sahel region from Mali to the wider West Africa because IEDs are simple to design and rely on dual-use components that are cheap and easily accessible. 

According to Kollie, they have featured in complex attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, resulting in unprecedented levels of casualties among civilians, defense and security forces, as well as UN peacekeepers, in addition to damages to civilian infrastructure.

The LiNCA boss also said that the Liberia National Commission on Arms, empowered by its mandate to regulate and supervise the import, transfer, storage and use of all conventional arms, ammunition, explosives and related materials in possession of state security agencies and civilians’ population engaged the Small Arms Survey to conduct this self-assessment to adopt a preventive approach towards regulating IEDs in Liberia.

“We are glad that the Small Arms Survey agreed to work with the Commission to organize this important event for relevant state security agencies, technicians from the Commission, and representatives from mining companies operating in Liberia.”

He continued, “We must note that this initiative is the first event organized to bring together mining companies since the Act creating the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms was repealed in September 2022, granting the Arms Commission the expanded responsibility to regulate explosives, including commercial explosives and components in Liberia.”

Kollie said the Commission is committed to continuing to engage all stakeholders in this sector to ensure the adoption of a preventive approach towards regulating IEDs and related materials.

Earlier in his remarks, Julien Joly, Programme Manager on Small Arms Survey, maintained that although Liberia has so far not been directly impacted by IED incidents, it is critical for the country to develop suitable counter-IED capabilities should an IED threat emerge in the future. And developing such capabilities requires a thorough understanding of the IED system and of the state's preparedness for dealing with IEDs. 

“I am honored to stand before you today as we embark on a crucial journey towards strengthening national security and countering a threat that knows no border-improved explosive devices, or IEDs. As we gather here, we are reminded of the words of the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, which highlighted the devastating impact of IEDs on societies worldwide,” he told the participants.

Joly said that to support this analysis, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has developed a voluntary self-assessment tool. 

This tool, according to him, is designed to assist states in identifying gaps and challenges in their national regulation and preparedness with regard to improvised explosive devices.

He told the participants that the purpose of the training was twofold. First and foremost, it aims to support states in the development of coherent national responses to the threat posed by IEDs by providing a structured framework for assessment and improvement. It empowers governments to address the challenges posed by these deadly devices.

Secondly, Joly said the IEDs enable donors to assess the likely scale of contributions and prioritize their efforts in enhancing national counter-IED capabilities.

He stressed, “In this way, it serves as a bridge between nations, fostering cooperation in our shared mission to prevent and mitigate the use of IEDs. It is important to keep in mind that utilizing the self-assessment tool is voluntary and that the data that will be generated while utilizing the tool here is the sole property of the government of Liberia."

The Small Arms Survey Programmed Manager noted that, with a view to deploying this self-assessment tool in West Africa, the Small Arms Survey and UNIDIR have signed a MoU.

“Today, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, we are here to introduce and discuss this tool with a view to supporting the government to enhance national C-IED capabilities,’ he stated.

For his part, the German Ambassador to Liberia, Jakob Haselhuber, said Germany is very delighted to support the C-IED training in Liberia.

Haselhuber hopes that the training will enable participants and Liberia, including the continent, to be prepared to counter terrorist threats in the future.