Foreign Minister Professor Francis Addresses ATT’s 7th Conference, Discusses Sierra Leone's Commitment to Promote Effective Treaty Universalization & Implementation
Geneva, Switzerland, Monday 30 August 2021- The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, His Excellency, Professor David John Francis, today addressed in-person the 2021 Conference of the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty member States on his government's strong commitment to the universalisation of the Arms Trade Treaty and its effective implementation.
In his Keynote address on behalf of the President, His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, Professor David John Francis, said Sierra Leone was proud to have represented Africa as President of the Seventh Conference of States Parties. Adding that right from the beginning of Sierra Leone’s presidency, the government exhibited the highest level of political commitment and leadership towards serving the ATT community as the president of CSP7 and urged states to always promote the universalization and implementation of the treaty.
“As a former leader during our civil war, and as a peace studies scholar, President Bio fully understands both the need for weapons systems for legitimate and sovereign purposes and effective global arms regulation for responsible use of those weapons. For this reason, on Sierra Leone’s assumption of the leadership of the ATT, he authored a total of 54 letters to other Heads of State and Government across the globe urging their countries to become parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. Those letters were mostly hand-delivered by you, Mr. President, to the diplomatic representatives of those Heads of States and Government here in Geneva, and some were directly mailed to the Heads of States”, he said.
Professor Francis during the thematic discussion of the CSP7 President working paper stated that the thematic working paper was informed by and reflected Sierra Leone’s experience of violence and great human suffering resulting from the uncontrolled use of small arms and light weapons, during the civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002. He reiterated Sierra Leone's call for the ATT community to strengthen efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ensure efficient stockpile management. He noted the numerous measures adopted by Sierra Leone to comply with the various treaty obligations, including the establishment of the National Commission on Small Arms in 2010 and the passing of the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2012.
"Sierra Leone believes that the ATT stands as one of the most significant achievements in international arms control and plays a key role in promoting international and regional peace, security and stability. It will help reduce human suffering, promote cooperation, transparency and responsible action by States Parties involved in the international trade in conventional arms", Professor Francis concluded.
In his statement on behalf of the President of the Gambia, His Excellency President Adama Barrow, H.E. Mr. Sheik Omar FAYE, Minister of Defence, Republic of the Gambia, announced His Excellency, President Barrow’s decision to accede to the ATT and become a state party.
” Early this year, President Barrow received a letter from his brother, His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, inviting the Gambia to join the Arms Trade Treaty. This invitation reminded us immediately that our country was the only one in West Africa that has not yet signed or ratified the treaty. So let me thank you, Mr President, for your efforts to expand the membership of the ATT in these challenging times. I would like to thank the CSP7 President for choosing to focus on efficient stockpile management as a tool to contribute to the effective implementation of the Treaty, particularly preventing and mitigating diversion of conventional weapons from licit to illicit markets", he concluded.
The President of the Seventh Conference of States Parties (CSP7) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), who also presided over the Conference, Ambassador Dr Lansana Gberie said Small Arms and Light Weapons are the weapons of choice in civil wars, organised crimes, gang violence, Gender-based violence and related offences, transnational crime, terrorism among others.
Ambassador Gberie stated that the choice of his thematic focus was informed by Sierra Leone’s own experience as well as the related experiences of many other States across all regions of the globe resulting from inadequate regulation of international arms trade.
Ambassador Gberie’s Presidency in the opening session received overwhelming support from States Parties, including, Switzerland, UK, the Gambia, China among others.
The weeklong conference from Monday 30 August to Friday 3 September focuses on Treaty Universalization, Treaty Implementation, Transparency and Reporting among other things. The conference takes place at the Geneva International Conference Centre.
The ATT is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The Treaty is the key instrument for regulating the global arms trade, covering the production, movement, and stockpiling of weapons, as well as human rights issues that are salient in armed conflict.
Sierra Leone ratified the Arms Trade Treaty on 12 August 2014, as the 43rd UN Member State and 4th African country to do so.
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