The dumping of small arms and light weapons in Africa by Western countries is retarding socioeconomic and political development of the continent by fuelling conflict, Goodluck Jonathan told dignitaries at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
Mr Jonathan, who addressed the 65th session of the UN, also said the continuous exclusion of Africa from the permanent membership of the UN Security Council can no longer be justified. He called for the adoption of preventive diplomacy by the UN for the management of international conflicts, as a replacement for the current use of force through peacekeeping operations, which have become very expensive to maintain.
He also urged the international body to review the “rules of engagements” in all its ongoing peacekeeping operations across the world in order to avoid or substantially reduce the death of UN soldiers during such operations. “Nigeria calls on the UN to take firm action towards the control of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, by adopting an arms trade treaty,” he said. “It is estimated that about 100 million of these weapons are in sub-Saharan Africa alone. This have been identified as falling in the categories of weapons that are actually killing more people in the African continent than have been killed by any other type of weapons. However, like nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, there are no global treaties or legally binding instruments for dealing with the challenges of small arms and light weapons.”
Praise for ECOWAS
Mr Jonathan said the proliferation of these arms encourages the culture of impunity, trans-border crime, armed robbery, piracy, kidnapping, raping of innocent women and retardation of economic growth, “because no one will want to invest in a nation or a region that is crisis prone.” He praised the ECOWAS and the “substantial progress” it has made in bringing peace and stability to countries in the community that, until recently, were embroiled in political crisis.
“We will still continue to build on these achievements to consolidate stability and engender prosperity in the sub-region,” he said. “The need for the UN to provide leadership in addressing problems and challenges of a global nature is imperative. We urge the UN to quicken the pace of its reforms, not only to better reflect current global realities, but also to ensure that it enjoys genuine legitimacy.”