Your Excellency, the Ambassador, German Embassy in Ghana,
Your Excellency, Deputy Resident Representative United Nations Development Programme, Accra Ghana
Your Excellency, Representative of the Resident Representative United Nations Development Programme, Abuja, Nigeria,
Your Excellency, Mr. Baffour Dokyi Amoa, Chair of the International Action Network on Small Arms,
Representatives of Civil Society Organizations,
Friends from the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to take the opportunity to welcome you all to this important workshop. The objective of the workshop is to get our Civil Society actors sensitized on the harm Small Arms and Light Weapons are causing to the country.
Let me extend my profound appreciation to the German Federal Foreign Office and the United Nations Development Programme for the financial support for this workshop.
The issue of small arms and light weapons and its proliferation has been of great concern to Ghana and the International Community. The easy availability and abuse of small arms have a profound effect on violence in all forms. The illicit trade, accumulation and use of small arms and light weapons intensify conflict, threatens human life, undermines human and social development and hampers our collective progress.
Illegal possession and use of small arms and light weapons (SALW) cause hundreds of thousands of deaths across the globe each year. Any society where access to Small Arms and Light Weapons is easy experience a high level of unwarranted deaths and violence.
Based on the reportage on recent activities in the country by the media, security analysts and peace-loving Ghanaians have hinted that if care is not taken, this year’s elections will not be peaceful.
Therefore, as Civil Society actors, we want you to be aware of the situation at hand and work towards a peaceful election in order not to witness arms proliferation.
UN Sustainable Development Goals 16.4 specifically charges States to combat the illicit flow and proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons as they are the main problems that affect the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation affects the peace and serenity of our communities and retard development. It is, therefore, not only a problem for Ghana but a problem that threatens the security and well-being of humanity.
The issue of Small Arms and Light Weapons abuse during the election should be of concern to us all especially you, the Civil Society operators. A safe and peaceful Ghana is what we all yearn for.
If we can control Small Arms and Light Weapons, Ghana will make an even greater step or contribution to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals of which our current president is the co-chair.
We believe that the involvement and participation of civil society as an important stakeholder in policymaking.
CSOs can improve the quality of policymaking by providing state agencies with a wider spectrum of information, views and suggestions; voice the concerns and needs of minority groups who might otherwise not be heard, including women and youth. CSOs can also inform and mobilize the public; enter into dialogue with the government, politicians and other actors of the security sector; and engage in lobbying all in the interest of our collective well-being.
The above indicates that Civil Society actors are everywhere in this country and must take interest in Small Arms policies, obligations that we have assumed under various international conventions.
Ghana has signed onto various international instruments such as the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Arms Trade Treaty, The African Union’s Agenda 2063’s Silencing the Guns and the Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Admittedly, civil society is also placed to identify the genuine/root causes in security, conflict or SALW problems that are affecting daily security and the life of our people. This is because; you have been working directly with the people and communities and have an in-depth and valuable knowledge of the local contexts and sensitivities of the local populations. Our approaches though may differ, the ultimate aim is to ensure the betterment of our country.
As CSO’s you have a crucial role to fight the misuse of small arms and light weapons because you work directly with the Communities and therefore better understand and appreciate local issues and dynamics.
Your key interest in the actions of state actors only helps us to work better. Through your excellent advocacy and research, it puts state actors on their toes. You must be vigilant. Let us at this stage recognize the significant role of the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and other coalition of NGOs towards the Vigilante Law (Act 999) which was recently passed in Parliament.
Civil Society actors can potentially help reduce mistrust in the country. You can play a vital role in monitoring tensions and providing early warning of the risks of an outbreak or recurrence of conflict by reporting to the appropriate authorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, elections have been the major vehicle through which Small Arms and Light Weapons have been abused around the world and as Ghana gears up towards the crucial 2020 election, the issue of small arms and light should not be underestimated. And you, the civil society actors must make sure of that.
The recent survey by the Commission estimated that there are more than 2.3million small arms in the hands of civilians and so we must make sure that they are not used to intimidate the electorates.
In conclusion, with the caliber of representatives present here, I am sure will come up with ways that we can help state institutions to control the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons before, during and after the elections to ensure that Ghana continues to be the oasis of peace in the region.
I thank you for your attention.