OAU urges UN forum to help combat illicit trade in small arms in Africa

OAU urges UN forum to help combat illicit trade in small arms in Africa

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African countries today urged the ongoing United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons to pay special attention to curbing the spread of these armaments on the continent.

Said Djinnid, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), told the forum that small arms and light weapons had "devastating" effects on peace, security, stability and development in Africa.

Reading a message to the Conference adopted by the recent OAU summit, Mr. Djinnid said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons fuelled conflicts, seriously undermined humanitarian law, created an environment that promoted crime, hampered good governance, and "generated disastrous consequences, particularly among children, women, old people, refugees and other vulnerable groups."

The OAU message urges the UN forum to take account of Africa's position on the proliferation of light weapons and on ways of ensuring more effective arms control on the continent. Reaffirming the OAU's commitment to addressing the problem, Mr. Djinnid appealed to the international community to assist Africa in its efforts. He also appealed "for the establishment of a close and long-term international partnership between the OAU, the UN and the international community as a whole for the eradication of this phenomenon from our continent."

Meanwhile, negotiators continued working overtime in closed-door talks on the draft programme of action, which is slated for adoption by the Conference when it concludes on Friday. On Tuesday night, delegates worked until just after midnight to finish reviewing the draft's second section, which contains recommendations for dealing with the illicit arms trade at the national, regional and global levels.