At regional meetings, African States lay out shared priorities for the Fourth Review Conference (RevCon4) on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons

May 29th, 2024

As part of the preparations for the Fourth Review Conference for the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (RevCon4), the Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), through its United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), organized two regional preparatory meetings in Africa.

These meetings served as critical fora for representatives of national commissions tasked with combatting illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) to exchange views on the state of implementation of the UN PoA and its related International Tracing Instrument (ITI) in their countries and adopt a common regional African position ahead of the Review Conference, scheduled to take place in New York in June 2024. The meetings were made possible with support from the European Union.

The first regional meeting, for West and Central African States, took place in Lomé, Togo, from 29 February to 1 March 2024. The President-designate of RevCon4, Ambassador Maritza Chan Valverde of Costa Rica, and  Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, participated in-person, along with forty six (46) delegates from  23 countries[1], and  regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Mines Advisory Group (MAG International), WAANSA TOGO, the EU delegation, some members of the diplomatic corps (ambassadors and consuls) based in Togo as well as experts from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Sessions with Member States representatives

Member States identified region-specific challenges, exchanged on successful countermeasures, and collaboratively formulated strategic directions for the upcoming RevCon4. They also highlighted the need for national ownership and for strengthening national infrastructures, policies, and procedures to promote accountability and governance through establishing national targets, action plans and commissions, and regular national reporting. Member States also recognized the pressing need to address the impacts of new developments in small arms manufacturing design and technology, underscoring the importance of enhancing international cooperation and assistance, notably capacity building, and technological transfers, in this regard. Participants also raised the importance of focusing on both the drivers of demand as well as the production and supply side of small arms. The latter implies engaging more with the private sector and arms producers. 

Regional preparatory meeting Lomé

On 4 and 5 March, UNREC organized a similar assembly for East and Southern African countries in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was attended by Ambassador Chan and the High Representative and Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, along with sixty-five (65) delegates from 21 countries[2], 10 of which were women. United Nations agencies were represented by experts from UNODA, UNREC and UNIDIR, and representatives from the African Union Commission, the East African Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and civil society organization the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) were also in attendance.

Session with civil society organizations

During the meeting, Member States highlighted the importance of leveraging new technologies in the implementation of UN PoA, and for the regulation of craft production. Delegates also stressed the inclusion of gender mainstreaming into a broad range of SALW interventions and programs, including those that focus on advancing development, and those that tackle both the demand and supply side. In similar vein, they also recommended that SALW control measures are made an integral part of national and regional development strategies.

Regional preparatory meeting Nairobi

Through efforts such as organizing the two regional UN PoA preparatory meetings, UNREC seeks to enhance the effectiveness of small arms control and gender-responsive initiatives, support States with formulating recommendations that will form a common African position on SALW, and aid with their implementation of the UN PoA. UNREC’s efforts in this regard are part of a UNODA-wide UN PoA project for 2023-2025, supported by the European Union, comprised of trainings, workshops, meetings, and webinars, among others. 

[1]Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote-d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

[2] Botswana, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.