May 23, 2024
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Principal Secretary Ministry of Interior and National Security Dr. Raymond Omollo address the press

Regional Gathering by Eastern and Southern African Countries to Tackle Specter of Illicit Small Arms in Preparation for Global Meeting

Nairobi is set to host a pivotal gathering of Eastern and Southern African countries to review progress made and set priorities for preventing, combatting and eradicating the scourge of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW). The Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth Review Conference on the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA) and its International Tracing Instrument (ITI) is set to take place from 4 to 5 March 2024.
The meeting will see high-level attendance by the President Designate of the Fourth Review Conference, Ambassador Maritza Chan Valverde of Costa Rica, as well as Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

They are joined by delegations from over 26 countries from the Eastern and Southern Africa region, and regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union, the Economic Community of East African Community (ECA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC.
The regional preparatory meeting will be dedicated to fostering exchange of views on the state of implementation of the UN PoA and ITI and discuss a set of priorities in preparation for the UN PoA’s Fourth Review Conference (RevCon4), scheduled to take place in New York from 17-28 June 2024.

The widespread availability and illicit proliferation of SALW serve as key drivers and enablers of armed conflicts, violent extremism, and the expansion of terrorism, among other sources of violence and insecurity. Small arms control measures have proven themselves to be effective tools to disrupt the supply of illicit SALW to terrorist and criminal groups. “Adequate small arms control is a crucial means of reducing armed violence, preventing conflict and building peaceful and inclusive societies – without which sustainable development cannot happen,” says Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. One such tool is the UN PoA, adopted in 2001. This politically binding framework contains commitments by Member States to enhance control measures over small arms, including through improved national regulations, stockpile management, import/export controls and international cooperation. The introduction of the International Tracing Instrument in 2005 further strengthened this framework, by emphasizing the need for effective marking and record-keeping of weapons, thus aiding in their traceability. These measures are integral to the global effort in addressing the challenges posed by the illicit arms trade and align with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
United Nations Member States periodically review progress on these commitments, with biennial meeting of States and review conferences every six years. A Preparatory Committee meeting from 12-16 February 2024 helped to lay the groundwork.

In anticipation of the RevCon4, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) is organizing the preparatory regional meeting for Eastern and Southern African
States in Nairobi, Kenya. On 29 February – 01 March, a similar meeting for West and Central African States took place in Lomé, Togo.

The Nairobi meeting will provide a forum for participating States and other stakeholders, including regional organizations to identify region-specific SALW-related challenges and discuss priorities for RevCon4. The two-day meeting will feature thematic presentations and group discussions on various themes, such as developing effective national policies, enhancing tracing of SALW through the International Tracing Instrument framework, and identifying and
developing strategies to curb the supply and demand of SALW. It also offers a unique opportunity for participating States and regional organizations of Eastern and Southern Africa to engage in constructive discussions on combating terrorism, illicit trafficking and transnational crimes within the framework of the UN PoA and contribute to countries’ voluntary national reports. They will also explore the synergies between UN PoA and regional instruments such as the Nairobi Protocol on small arms and the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on control of firearms, along with Weapons and Ammunition Management and commitments made in the area
of preventing violent extremism and with regards to integrating SALW control into 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its linkages to the African Union 2063 Agenda for inclusive and sustainable development. Moreover, the regional preparatory meeting is a fundamental platform to discuss the enhancement of international cooperation and assistance.

The regional meeting takes place in the context of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs’ global project that seeks to support full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action and its International Tracing Instrument, supported by the European Union.

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