UN, Government and civil society representatives call for silencing guns to ensure development and peace
13 June 2017, Accra, Ghana
From 5 to 12 June 2017, the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence has been taking place under the theme: “The Road to Development and Peace Begins with Silencing the Guns.” During a joint press conference in Accra on 12 June at the International Press Centre, the United Nations, Ministry of Interior, Small Arms Commission, and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) stressed the need for collaboration in tackling the prevalence of illicit small arms and light weapons as a means to ensure peace and development.
“During this Week of Global Action Against Gun Violence, I urge all stakeholders, Governments, regional and international organisations and civil society alike, to rally around the cause inherent in the SDGs—building a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful world for all,” according to the statement by UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu.
The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence was launched by IANSA in 2003. The Chair of the International Advisory Council of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), Mr. Baffour Dokyi Amoa, explained that IANSA is the coordinator of civil society for the UN’s aims to reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.
The nexus between peace and development is spelled out clearly in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims to end poverty in all forms, protect the planet and build inclusive and safer societies for all persons. Goal 16 – on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies – includes a dedicated target to significantly reduce illicit arms flows by 2030.
UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, called for Government and civil society to address the root causes of conflict, and identified youth unemployment as one of them. She said: “Unmet expectations of young people for good jobs, for opportunities to start a business or to continue their education, lead to frustration and can make young people vulnerable to those who would exploit them for political purposes. Instead, young people need opportunities for decent work and opportunities to participate in electoral processes to help determine the future of their countries through peaceful and effective means.”
Concerned about the use of illicit arms in recent politically-related vigilantism, she reminded that such actions have the potential, if met with impunity, without legal consequence, to undermine Ghana’s democracy. She commended the Ministry and the Small Arms Commission on taking measures to silence the guns, such as the adoption of a 32-day gun amnesty in 2016, public sensitisation and awareness-raising campaigns (for example the commemoration of the 2016 International Small Arms Day), and the collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to develop a database to track the confiscation and use of illicit small arms.
Concluding, the Resident Coordinator encouraged “citizens to also walk the road to development and peace by taking responsible actions to silence the guns.”
Deputy Minister of the Interior, Mr. Henry Quartey, also appealed to the media and citizenry to volunteer information on any mob justice incidences. He condemned any action of mob justice as illegal saying “it has no place in our democratic society.”
Executive Secretary of the Small Arms Commission, Mr. Jones Appler, said the Commission will work with other stakeholders to address the small arms challenge to make sure Ghana becomes free from gun violence. He stressed the need for legislation to be reviewed and law enforcement to be improved. He concluded reiterating that “only peace can bring about the development we want.”