Regional Workshop on “Achieving the Universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Africa”, in Togo

From 1 to 2 February 2024, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, through the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), and the United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) jointly organised a Regional Workshop on “Achieving the Universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Western Africa” in Lomé, Togo. The purpose of the workshop was to encourage adherence to the CCW and contribute to the understanding of the key provisions of the Convention and its Protocols.

The two-day gathering in Lomé brought together approximately 25 participants, including senior officials in public administrations responsible for the management of conventional weapons, senior military officials, members of national human rights commissions, civil society, research institutions and think tanks, and individual experts.

Opening remarks were delivered by Sophie Guillermin-Golet of the CCW ISU, Anselme N. Yabouri of UNREC, Mikafui Akue Djessoa of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Togo and Benin, and Paolo Salvia of the Delegation of the European Union to Togo, as the workshop was held under a UNODA programme funded by the European Union.

Anselme N. Yabouri of UNREC, Mikafui Akue Djessoa of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Togo and Benin, and Paolo Salvia of the Delegation of the European Union to Togo deliver opening remarks.

Throughout the workshop, participants discussed the aims and scope of the CCW, the role of the ICRC and the CCW ISU in supporting States with implementing the Convention, and the applicability of the Convention to non-State armed groups. Discussions took the form of thematic presentations held in person and online with subsequent Q&A sessions, a knowledge-sharing exercise where participants discussed measures taken in their respective countries to manage explosive remnants of war and ammunition stocks, as well as a group exercise where participants reviewed and presented on the key provisions of Amended Protocol II and Protocol V.

Participants also discussed current and emerging threats and weapons systems, including improvised explosive devices (IED) and lethal autonomous weapons systems. Presentations were heard from Gugu Dube of Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Bassiratou Idrissou Traore of WILPF Togo on the risks that artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems pose to human rights, the environment and individual accountability, as well as how countries can collaborate regionally and internationally to prevent the harmful effects of these types of weapons systems prior to their deployment in the West African region.

Participants discussed key provisions of Amended Protocol II and Protocol V to the CCW.

Angel Horna, IED Coordinator (Amended Protocol II) and Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva highlighted the need to educate civilians about the risks posed by IED through national and regional responses and through the help of research institutions and civil society. Lieutenant-colonel Djimon Sahgui of CPADD Benin provided an overview of the different types of IED covered by Amended Protocol II, how they operate, and how the CCW has given rise to the establishment of organizations like CPADD, whose aims align with those of the Convention and whose purpose is to provide States with capacity to implement the CCW and its Protocols and handle IED situations in practice.

Representatives from High Contracting Parties to the Convention shared their experiences as High Contracting Parties, including by speaking to the process of ratification and implementation of the CCW. For example, Colonel Adama Diara of Mali highlighted the integration of provisions of the CCW and Amended Protocol II into domestic military doctrine and discussed how the integration of these provisions have assisted with the clearing of mines in the border region between Mali and Algeria. Malick Diop of Senegal raised the fact that many African countries suffer from “porose borders”, making borders difficult to protect from non-State armed groups. He emphasised that terrorism and other external threats necessitate strong national policies on conventional weapons, as well as nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons – even if these are not used – to be able to anticipate threats that may become more commonplace in the future. Jonas Paka of Togo emphasised the need to raise awareness amongst the population to protect civilians from explosive remnants of war, and that joining the CCW and in particular Protocol V constitutes the first step.

Workshop participants after the first day of the Regional Workshop in Lomé, Togo.

Finally, workshop participants underlined the importance of knowledge-sharing and capacity building amongst States in the region, as well as the need for further awareness of, and international cooperation and assistance towards, the Convention’s full implementation. In particular, it was highlighted that the CCW can help bring together High Contracting Parties and international organizations, like the ICRC, who may assist them in taking practical measures to implement the Convention’s provisions.

Additional information on the CCW is available here.