The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) has presented their Assessment of Liberia’s Compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to Vice President Dr. Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
The presentation was made to Vice President Boakai at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ C. Cecil Dennis Jr. Auditorium on Friday, July 15.
Before making the presentation to Vice President Boakai, the Chairman of LiNCSA, Mr. James M. Fromayan, said Liberia has a keener understanding than most about the need for effective control of conventional arms, of their ownership, use, and transfer across borders.
“Our own terrible war was made much worse by the ready supply and movement of weapons within Liberia and from other countries to anyone who wanted them,” Mr. Fromayan added.
He said that for this reason, he and others at the Commission worked closely with partners, including the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and with the National Legislature, which has now passed into Law, the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act.
Mr. Fromayan said that Liberia, being a member of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), has to do all to be fully compliant with that instrument, which it signed in June 2013 and ratified in November 2014.
“The ATT is the first legally-binding global instrument to regulate – regulate, not ban – the international transfer of conventional arms. By conventional arms, I am not talking only of small arms, but all conventional arms, up to battleships, fighter aircrafts and tanks,” he said, adding,
“Fundamentally, the ATT requires every cross-border arms sale to be explicitly authorized by the government on the basis of agreed rules for when it is and when it is not ok to transfer.”
Mr. Fromayan indicated that under the Treaty it is not okay to transfer arms where they would be used for genocide and human rights abuse, but only to places where they would be legitimately used for defense purposes.
Providing an answer to those who may be wondering why the country should be bothered with the ATT since it is now peaceful, Mr. Fromayan stressed that only a quick glance at the news each day will tell you how the out-of-control arms trade continues to wreak havoc around the globe.
“By its very nature, this is truly a global problem, and Liberia needs to play its part to face it,” he added.
Chairman Fromayan further stated that the need for the country to fully implement the Treaty is more urgent with the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the transfer of responsibility for the country’s security back to the Liberian government.
Receiving the LiNCSA Assessment Report on Liberia’s Compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty, VP Boakai said that one cannot stress enough how critical a catalyst the Small Arms Commission is to the protection and maintenance of peace and security in a post-conflict country such as Liberia.
The VP praised the role of the Commission as being “strategically important” to the safety and cohesion of the state, as the world has an abundance of evidence of the devastating toll the illicit flow of arms has caused on nations.
“The Government of Liberia has time and again proved its resolve to foster and support efforts that will strengthen peace and security in the country. The establishment of the Small Arms Commission flowed from such a resolve. This was reinforced by the recent enactment of the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act,” he added.
Vice President Boakai used the occasion to thank all the partners, including the Government of Norway, which helped LiNCSA to actualize the Report. However, he added that much more remains to be done in elevating Liberia into full compliance with ATT so that it is on par with other countries.
Also making remarks, Acting Foreign Minister B. Elias Shoniyin stated that as Liberia presents its Report on the Assessment of Compliance with the Treaty, the country is actually in fulfillment of an important requirement under the ATT.
Mr. Shoniyin thanked the UN for what he termed as “accompanying Liberia through efforts of managing conventional arms through the imposition of sanctions under Resolution 1521, which was lifted last May.”
He said the Treaty sets the global standard and establishes the framework for regulating the international trade in conventional arms to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade.
Also speaking during the program, UNMIL Deputy SRSG Mr. Vlademir Vrey thanked the Liberian government for taking a leading role in controlling small arms in the region. He urged LiNCSA to consider using the County Service Center (CSC) to record firearms found in the counties.