Mr Cletus Avoka, Minister for the Interior, on Tuesday said Ghana had a moral obligation to support other states on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that would ensure responsibility and fairness in the import, export, trans-shipment and transit of conventional weapons.
He said that support would also ensure the guarantee of human rights including the economic, political and social rights of persons around the world.
In a speech read for him at a day’s seminar in Accra to commemorate the Global Week of Action on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty in Accra, Mr Avoka said Ghana voted in affirmative for the treaty.
The Minister said to show more commitment to the ATT, President John Atta Mills had in a meeting with the Diplomatic Corps reiterated the desire to take serious and positive look at all conventions that were yet to be ratified including the ECOWAS Conventions on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The seminar was organized by the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) and the Ghana Action Network on Small Arms (GHANSA).
The ATT is a framework for a legally binding international agreement establishing a set of basic roles to regulate the international transfer of conventional arms.
It is based on the simple principles that arms importers and exporters have the responsibility to ensure that they do not provide weapons that would be used in serious violations of international law.
Mr Avoka noted that uncontrolled accumulation and proliferation of licit and illicit small arms and light weapons was a major threat to the national and sub-regional security.
He said Ghana was conscious of the challenges faced in ensuring security, peace and development of the people, adding that those challenges were further aggravated by illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons, which were primary tools used in conflicts.
Mr Avoka said as part of a comprehensive approach to enhancing human security, the government was working hard to establish strict national, regional and international arms transfer criteria that were consistent with the country’s responsibilities under international law, based on common global principles.
Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, President of WAANSA, said in advocating an ATT, several factors such as the impact of such arms on sustainable development, the impact of arms transfer on regional security and whether there would be corrupt practices involved in any stage of the transfer must be taken into account when assessing an international arms transfer.
“Our lobbying and campaigning in this regard must ensure that appropriate sanctions mechanism are put in place to allow effective enforcement of an Arms Trade Treaty,” he said.
He said currently there was no international legally binding instrument that effectively brings the trade in weapons under control, adding that an ATT was an essential step in prohibiting arms transfer to destinations where they might be used to commit grave human rights violations, fuel conflicts or undermine development.
Mr Amoa therefore urged all and sundry to work hard to ensure that the noble dream became a reality.
Mr Peter Agboso from GHANSA said this year’s campaign was targeted at the need for the Ghana government to take an active role in the forthcoming United Nations discussions about an ATT.
He stressed the urgent need for ATT saying, 1,000 people were killed every day by conventional weapons.
“GHANSA is saying our government must step forward now to argue for a tough Arms Trade Treaty. Otherwise, the voices of scrupulous countries will prevail and dangerous arms transfers will continue unchecked,” he added.
Seven countries have so far ratified and deposited the instrument of ratification at the ECOWAS Commission.