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UNREC FOCUS: April 2012- n° 16

Many African States Are Struggling with Unplanned Explosions at Arms Depots
While much of the media attention is focused on the devastating explosion of arms in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, there has been insufficient attention given to similar challenges many other African governments face. Based on new information from a Small Arms Survey report, there have been 48 unplanned explosions at munitions sites throughout Africa from 1998 to early 2012. The Republic of Congo had four previous unplanned explosions before the one which occurred on 4 March in Brazzaville. While it is difficult to know exactly what causes some of these explosions, most are the result of a “lack of technical knowledge and inadequate attention to safety standards.” For the last ten years, UNODA has been helping States address these issues, including by creating training modules and technical guidelines. For more details on these technical guidelines, see new UN publications.

Listen to the UNREC Director, Mr. Ivor Richard Fung, discussing this issue on BBC Radio, here.

ECOWAS Governmental Experts Agree on New Standards for the Marking of SALW
Togolese pistol with new ECOWAS markings(2012-03-15)
In early December 2011, ECOWAS governmental experts agreed to three new draft standards on the marking of SALW with the aim of improving weapon traceability and accountability. Building off the ECOWAS Convention on SALW and the experience in Eastern Africa, this agreement sets a higher standard for new imports and new “industrially produced” SALW in some ways. For example, it requires ECOWAS Member States to put a mark on each SALW identifying the institution using the weapon (such as police or civilians) as well as other classical and security markings. The governmental experts also agreed to specific standards for SALW already in the country and new craft or artisanal produced firearms.

UN Report: Large Quantities of Illicit Weapons Flows Provoke a Destabilizing Effect in the Sahel Region 


According to a December 2011 UN Secretary General mission report, large quantities of weapons and ammunition from Libyan stocks have been smuggled into the Sahel region contributing to a state of insecurity. This large influx of arms is helping fuel armed violence and clashes with security forces in the region and is bolstering old rebel movements in Niger and Mali. The report indicates that there has also been an increase in kidnappings, hostage taking and other criminal activities orchestrated by terrorist groups (Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, the jihadist movement Ansar Eddin, and the new jihadist group Movement unicité et jihad en Afrique de l’ouest). Crimes such as car thefts, armed attacks and other criminal offenses are also elevated. Here is the link to the full report.

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UNREC Refines Three SALW Training Modules for African Governments
In cooperation with UNDP Mozambique and Mozambican authorities, UNREC recently adapted three training modules on SALW issues for the Mozambican Police Academy, which can be used for many African government and security forces. Based on training modules successfully used by UNREC’s sister organization in the Americas, UNLiREC, these refined modules cover three major areas: 1) Overview of key issues and concerns related to SALW in Africa; 2) International and national standards for the control of SALW; and, 3) Identifying SALW, related ammunition, and explosives. Each module includes up to date information and research on SALW issues and new information on best practices related to SALW control.

Research Consultants Near Completion of Field Work Examining Illicit Arms Flows in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria
altStarting in October 2011, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and UNREC launched a study entitled “Small Arms & Light Weapons (SALW) trafficking in West Africa: illicit routes & caches of arms between Ghana, Togo, Benin & Nigeria”. The four national consultants began their field research earnestly in December 2011, and they are now nearing the final aspects of their field research. Building off a study UNREC sponsored in 2006, a few of the consultants are focusing a part of their work on better understanding craft or artisanal production of firearms. The current aim is to have the full study completed by the summer of 2012. 

UNREC staff inspects hunting rifle seized by Togolese authorities between 2008-2012

UNREC Completes Project Supporting Security Sector Reform in the Republic of Comoros In cooperation with UNDP Comoros, UNREC organized in the Republic of Comoros starting late last year a security policy development process that has resulted in the submission of two final documents to support the government’s efforts in reforming the security sector: 1) guidelines for the development of a strategic plan for the national police; and, 2) guidelines for the development of a Code of Conduct for the defense and security forces.

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Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)



Roundtable Meeting on the ECOWAS Common Position on the ATT

25-26 April

Abuja, Nigeria

Roundtable Meeting on the Central African States Common Position on the ATT

4-5 May

Kigali, Rwanda

Meeting for All African States on the ATT (TBC)

21-22 May (TBC)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (TBC)

African Union Summit

July 2012

Lilongwe, Malawi

UN Conference on the ATT

2-27 July

New York, USA

UN Program of Action on SALW (PoA)



Regional Meeting on PoA

21-22 June (TBC)

Nairobi, Kenya

Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence

11-17 June


Regional Meeting on PoA, International Tracing Instrument, and ATT

4-5 Junee

Cairo, Egypt

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)



Preparatory Committee Meeting for the NPT Review Conference

30 April – 11 May

New York, USA

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Arms Control and Disarmament

4-7 March, 2012: Wilton Park Conference and ISS -- Africa and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime, Johannesburg, South Africa
UNREC attended the conference, which was to assess the present and future role of Africa in the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the prospects for a more coordinated policy approach. On 5 March, UNREC gave a presentation entitled and gave a presentation entitled “Capacity building on nuclear non-proliferation regime.

05 March, 2012: Eighth Steering Committee Meeting of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC)
UNREC attended the KAIPTC Steering Committee Meeting where the 2012 regional small arms and light weapons training programme was reviewed and broader SALW issues within West Africa were discussed.

29 February – 2 March, 2012: UNIDIR Meeting: “Supporting the Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations through Regional Discussions and Expertise Sharing” - Nairobi, Kenya
In preparation for the final negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in July 2012, UNIDIR held a meeting for East and Central African states to discuss the key issues proposed for the ATT. UNREC contributed to these discussions by providing presentations on the ATT process within the UN and on UN arms transfer transparency mechanisms.

21-22 December, 2011: UNREC / Togolese Government - Validation Workshop on Five Year National Strategic Plan for SALW control, Kpalimé, Togo
At the request of the Togolese government, UNREC participated in a Validation Workshop on the National Strategic Plan for the Control of SALW in Togo (2012-2016). The plan was adopted.

14-16 November, 2011: UNREC/ECCAS Workshop on the Implementation of the Kinshasa Convention, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
UNREC participated in the workshop on “The coordination and harmonization of initiatives and mechanisms for peace and security in Central Africa” where they contributed to discussions on conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Central Africa.

25-28 November, 2011: FES/UNREC/Government of Ghana - Meeting on Artisanal Production of Small Arms in Accra, Ghana
UNREC was invited by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Ghana National Commission of Small Arms to attend a high-level meeting to discuss strategies for addressing the problems arising from the illegal artisanal production of small arms.

Peace and Security

14-15 March, 2012, African Union Experts Meeting on the Situation in the Sahel Region, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
UNREC attended this key meeting, which was to agree on priority actions related security, humanitarian, and development issues and formulate the outline of a comprehensive plan of action to facilitate a coordinated approach.  Conclusion

21-23 February, 2012: DDR Workshops: “AU-DDRCP: First Consultations with experts of Regional Economic Communities” and “Sustainable Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Shadow Economies and Border Trade” - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
UNREC participated in two DDR-focused workshops where the AU presented their DDR Capacity Building Programme and the role of DDR in economic development was discussed. The AU aims to establish an agreed strategy on DDR for Africa.

4-9 December, 2011: 33rd experts and ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on security Questions in Central Africa, Bangui, Central Africa Republic 
UNREC gathered with other Member States of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (UNSAC) for the 33rd experts and ministerial meeting where they adopted the "Declaration on a Roadmap for the Fight Against Terrorism and the Non-Proliferation of Weapons in Central Africa ".

29 November – 1 December, 2011: UNECA / UNREC / Government of Cameroon – Regional Training Workshop on Security Sector Reform (SSR), Douala, Cameroon
UNREC shared its experience on SALW control, women’s role in SSR and integrated border management during a SSR training workshop organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Subregional Office for Central Africa (ECA / SRO-CA) in Cameroon.

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altUNREC is pleased to welcome Ms. Angela Kane of Germany as High Representative for Disarmament Affairs with the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA).

Agnes Marcaillou_DI_UN2009

UNREC would also like to congratulate Ms. Agnes Marcaillou, former Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch, on her new appointment as the Director of the UN Mine Action Service in the DPKO Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions.


UNREC is also pleased to welcome three new interns in Lome, Togo: Ms. Marianne Bevan from New Zealand and Ms. Irene Djahlin and Mr Kokou Adjehi from Togo.

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For more information on any aspect related to the UNREC Focus, please contact Jérôme Tatrabor at jtatrabor(at)unrec.org.