Nairobi Declaration

NairobideclarationOn March 15, 2000, government delegates from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region concluded a four-day conference addressing the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The representatives of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda signed the Nairobi Declaration, which attempts to tackle the problem.

The Declaration reads as follows:  

THE NAIROBI DECLARATION ON THE PROBLEM OF THE PROLIFERATION OF ILLICIT SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION AND THE HORN OF AFRICA

Nairobi, March 15, 2000

We the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the countries of the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa namely, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania, meeting at Nairobi on 12- 15 March, 2000 on the occasion of the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa Conference on the Proliferation of Small Arms pursuant to UNGA resolutions regarding the convening of the United Nations Conference on the illicit Trade in Small Arms And Light Weapons In All Its Aspects in June -July 2001 and in particular A/C.1/54/L.24 /Rev 1 of December, 1999, as well as the African common position contained in the OAU decision AHG/DEC 137(LXX) adopted by the OAU summit in Algiers in July 1999 fully share the growing international concern that the easy availability of illicit small arms and light weapons escalates conflicts and undermines political stability and have devastating impacts on human and State security.

  • Re-affirming the inherent right of States to individual or collective self -defence as recognised in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;
  • Gravely concerned with the problem of the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes arid Horn of Africa Region and the devastating consequences they have had in sustaining armed conflict and abetting terrorism, cattle rustling and other serious crimes in the region;
  • Recognising that the problem derives mainly from past and on-going armed conflicts in the region, as well as from illicit trade and terrorist activities by which these arms are infiltrated into the region;
  • Recognising also that the inadequate capacity of States in the region to effectively control and monitor their borders, poor and sometimes open immigration and customs controls, as well as mass movement of armed refugees across national borders in certain countries, have greatly contributed to the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons ;
  • Acknowledging that the problem of the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in the region has been exacerbated by internal political strife and extreme poverty , and that a comprehensive strategy to arrest and deal with the problem must include putting in place structures and processes to promote democracy, the observance of human rights, the rule of law and good governance as well as economic recovery and growth;
  • Underlining that a sustainable solution to the problem requires active and concerted regional effort as well as international understanding and support;
  • Considering the international concern regarding the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons;
  • Acknowledging the work of the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity , the European Union, the Organisation of American States as well as the efforts in West and Southern Africa to address problems associated with illicit small arms and light weapons;
  • Considering also the impact on crime and security in the sub- region exacerbated by the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons which emanate from outside the region;
  • Appalled by the devastating effects of armed conflicts particularly on women and children, and by the unconscionable exploitation of children in armed conflicts;
  • Considering that peace, stability , and security are prerequisites for sustainable development in the sub-region, and that the prevailing conflicts hinder the prospects of realising the full economic potential of this geo-strategically important region;
  • Recognising the relationship between security and development and the. need to develop comprehensive and effective peace- building and other measures aimed at reducing the resort to arms and to help curb the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons within the region;
  • Acknowledging also that the resolution of on-going conflicts in the region requires the nurturing of environments in which root causes of conflicts can be adequately addressed and durable stability established;
  • Emphasising the need to pursue negotiated solutions to conflicts so as to ensure their peaceful resolution, to promote a culture of peace, and to encourage education and awareness raising programmes on the problem of illicit small arms, involving all sectors of society;
  • Conscious of the need for effective controls of arms transfers by suppliers outside the region, including measures against transfers of surplus arms to prevent the problem of illicit small arms;
  • Acknowledging the difficulties in addressing the question of illicit trade and accumulation of illicit small arms and light weapons due to different situations obtaining in the respective countries;
  • Welcoming the Nairobi Initiative on Small Arms and Light Weapons for State and human security as a significant step in addressing the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons and their socio- economic and political impacts on the people of the region;
  • Having deliberated in depth on the subject, decide to:
    1. Designate the Government of Kenya to co-ordinate the follow-up to the Nairobi Declaration in consultation with States’ respective national mechanisms dealing with the problem of illicit arms and light weapons.
    2. Appeal for financial, technical and political support from the international community for the effective implementation of this Declaration;
    3. Call for effective implementation of the relevant decisions of the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity and other regional arrangements to address the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons in the sub-region;
    4. Appeal also for increased international support for programmes .and initiatives that advance human security and promote conditions conducive to long term peace, stability and development in the sub-region;
    5. Appeal for support of other sub-regions in the continent as well as the international community in order to effectively implement the measures agreed upon in this Declaration;
    6. Pursue positive policies and measures to create social, economic and political environments to reduce the resort to arms by individuals and communities;
    7. Urge the strengthening, and where they do not exist, the adoption of national laws and regulations and control mechanisms to govern civilian possession of arms;
    8. Call on States to co-ordinate and publicise their policies, regulations and laws relating to possession of arms by civilians;
    9. Urge source countries to ensure that all manufacturers, traders, brokers, financiers, and transporters of small arms and light weapons are regulated through licensing;
    10. Urge also the States in the sub-region to monitor and effectively control all transactions relating to small arms and light weapons to licensed entities;
    11. Call on States to strengthen sub-regional co- operation among police, intelligence, customs and border control officials in combating the illicit circulation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons and suppressing criminal activities relating to the use of these weapons;
    12. Call upon States to strengthen or establish national mechanisms to deal with the problem of illicit small arms as well as to implement the Nairobi Declaration and invite them to hold regular meetings in this regard;
    13. Invite the UN in co-operation with the OAU and other regional and international organisations to assist countries of the region to carry out a detailed study on the problem of illicit arms within the region and to draw up appropriate programmes for the collection and destruction of illicit small arms and light weapons. The States Parties to this Declaration will define the parameters of the study.
    14. Appeal for support of other sub-regions in the continent as well as the international community in order to effectively implement the measures agreed upon in this Declaration;

i) Rededicate ourselves to continue our efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the region and towards this end, call for genuine and serious commitment of all parties concerned as well as the international community;

ii) Seize this opportunity to comprehensively address the problem of the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in the sub-region;

iii) join efforts to address the problem, recognising the need for information sharing and co-operation in all matters relating to illicit small arms and light weapons including the promotion or research and data collection in the region and encouraging co-operation among governments and civil society;

iv) Encourage a concrete and co-ordinated agenda for action for the sub-region to promote human security and ensure that all States have in place adequate laws, regulations and administrative procedures to exercise effective control over the possession and transfer of small arms and light weapons through measures inter alia to:

v) Recognizing that the effective implementation of this declaration by individual states requires, the co- operation of the United Nations, international organisations, regional organisations, as well as the participation by civil society in preventing and reducing the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons, we further decide to:

  • Appeal also for increased international support for programmes .and initiatives that advance human security and promote conditions conducive to long term peace, stability and development in the sub-region;
  • Call for effective implementation of the relevant decisions of the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity and other regional arrangements to address the problem of illicit small arms and light weapons in the sub-region;
  • Appeal for financial, technical and political support from the international community for the effective implementation of this Declaration;
  • Designate the Government of Kenya to co-ordinate the follow-up to the Nairobi Declaration in consultation with States’ respective national mechanisms dealing with the problem of illicit arms and light weapons.

 

illustration: Melanie Ferrier