The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) on Monday, April 25, commenced a four-day stakeholders meeting for weapons and ammunition management (WAM) control in the country.
The assessment, which brought together relevant ministries and agencies and civil society actors as well as security apparatus, will assist the Government in establishing a baseline of existing national weapons and ammunition management framework in line with international and regional commitments and standards.
Small Arms Commission Chairman, James M. Fromayan, said the timing of the baseline assessment on weapons and ammunition management could not have come at a more opportune time, especially as UNMIL has finally phased out its peacekeeping operations in Liberia, leaving full national security responsibilities with Liberian security forces.
He recalled that under the Government of Liberia-UNMIL Transition Framework, LiNCSA in collaboration with the Liberian National Police took the lead for managing and monitoring arms importation and use in country.
Chairman Fromayan told his international partners that responsibility required LiNCSA to take over from the UNMIL key responsibilities for arms transfers and physical security of arms and stockpile management through regular inspections of armories, the making and recording of state-owned arms, monitoring of arms transfer into the country, civilian arms registration and licensing, and the like.
“We also recall the challenges that attended the full implementation of this role, prominent between which was the lack of adequate legal and policy frameworks for arms management and control as well as low institutional capacities.
“With hindsight, we are proud to note the immense progress we have made in the area of weapons and ammunition management owing to our collective determination to surmount the challenges, no matter how huge they may have been.”
Fromayan said LiNCSA took particular note of how the legal and policy environments for firearms control have been greatly enhanced by the newly enacted Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act and its administrative regulations, which have been finalized, validated and adopted.
“We have been able to coordinate our efforts in the area of WAM, part of which has resulted into our continued compliance with the ECOWAS Convention for arms transfer, arms making and recording in a national arms database,” he said.
He said convening the national WAM baseline assessment therefore; provides them the opportunity to see where we at the moment with our WAM frameworks and processes and to set the stage for building on the progress made.
“It is our expectation that the report emanating from the exercise will concentrate on three keys areas namely, an assessment of Government current capacities on WAM; areas of potential enhancement; and options as to how such enhancement could be carried out,” he added.
In remarks, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, UNDP Country Director, said with the drawdown of UNMIL, the national baseline will complement the tools and initiatives that the government and its partners have already put in place to facilitate decision making.
Dr. Beyai said the exercise is very important at both national and international levels, especially with regards to the general security situation in the world today.
“With this situation, UNDP is committed to continue its support for security reinforcement through effective implementation or arms control strategies and projects with Small Arms and other government bodies.
He further used the occasion to thank LiNCSA chairperson and his team for progress made on the project so far.
For his part, Himayu Shiotani, program manager at UNIDIR, “we are very much aware, that this is only part of a much wider picture.” He said the continent has also shown new determination over the past years to bring peace to all of its troubled regions.
Mr. Shiotani recalled that in 2016 the African Union heads of state vowed “to silence the guns until 2020” in their Lusaka Declaration.