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Nigeria: forum to rally support for comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty

12-05-2010 News Release 10/81

Abuja (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the support of Nigeria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the participation of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is holding a forum in Abuja today to mobilize ECOWAS member States for a strong and comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty in the run-up to the United Nations negotiating conference in 2012.

Ambassadors from ECOWAS countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), several partner countries such as Canada, Finland, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland, and the European Union are taking part in the event.

" We hope that we can repeat the success of previous forums that helped promote the signing of the Cluster Munitions Convention by West African States and the entry into force of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, " said Jacques Villettaz, head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria.

The unregulated trade in arms is a scourge on West Africa. In past armed conflicts, it has wrought enormous destruction and immense suffering affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians. To tackle this problem, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2006 to start work on a legally binding instrument – an " arms trade treaty " – establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

In Nigeria, the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross Society assist victims of internal violence and natural disasters, and the ICRC works closely with the ECOWAS Commission and government ministries to support and promote the ratification of treaties of international humanitarian law and the incorporation of their provisions into national legislation.

  For further information, please contact:
  Robin Waudo, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 703 595 4168