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Nigeria: West African experts discuss Arms Trade Treaty negotiations

25-04-2012 News Release 12/88

Abuja (ECOWAS / ICRC) – Top government experts from the 15 member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gathered today in Abuja to prepare for Arms Trade Treaty negotiations that will be held at the United Nations in July this year. The two-day meeting, jointly organized by the ECOWAS Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was formally opened by Olugbenga Ashiru, Nigeria's foreign minister.

The meeting aims to both ensure that ECOWAS interests are adequately reflected in the Arms Trade Treaty, and build on the ECOWAS member States' common position on the treaty by reinforcing positions on key elements ahead of the negotiations set to take place in July. Presentations at the meeting will review UN Preparatory Committee discussions, the Africa Union common position, potential challenges and solutions, arms transfer criteria and humanitarian laws, and strategies for ensuring that the treaty is comprehensive in scope and includes effective transfer criteria based on international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

"The unregulated trade in arms causes immense human suffering in armed conflicts and other situations of violence, particularly among civilians," said Zoran Jovanovic, the head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria, in his opening statement. "It is therefore imperative that arms transfers be strictly regulated on a global level. The upcoming treaty negotiations offer a rare and very important opportunity to reach a worldwide agreement on the principles, content and scope of a legally binding instrument to curb the human cost associated with poor regulation of arms transfers. The ICRC welcomes and supports this initiative."

Under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2001, the ICRC and the ECOWAS Commission work jointly with the member States to promote and implement international humanitarian law. The ICRC and ECOWAS maintain a permanent dialogue and work together on humanitarian issues in West Africa.

For further information, please contact:
Sunny Ugoh, ECOWAS, tel: +234 9 314 76 41 or +234 803 659 12 65s
Rafiullah Qureshi, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 461 96 13 or +234 703 595 41 68