ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, 2006

Sectors : Small and Light Weapons
Date made: 
2006
Level: 
Ministerial

Commitments

Commitments in: Peace and security - Small and Light Weapons

“We, the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)… HEREBY AGREE AS FOLLOWS…

CHAPTER II
TRANSFER OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS

Article 3
Prohibition of transfer of small arms and light weapons

1. Member States shall ban the transfer of small arms and light weapons and their manufacturing materials into their national territory or from/ through their national territory.
2. Member State shall ban, without exception, transfers of small arms and light weapons to Non–State Actors that are not explicitly authorised by the importing Member.
3. Small arms and light weapons as defined in this Convention shall not be deemed to be goods for the purpose of Article 45 of ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993

Article 4
Conditions of Exemption

1. A Member State can request exemption from the provisions of Article 3 (b) in order to meet legitimate national defence and security needs, or to participate in peace support or other operations in accordance with the decisions of the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, or other regional or sub-regional body of which it is a member.
2. For the purpose of paragraph 1 of this article, Member States shall establish and maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorisation, as well as of measures on international transit, for the transfer of small arms and light weapons.
4. Each Member State shall take such measures as may be necessary to ensure that licensing or authorisation procedures are secure and that the authenticity of licensing or authorisation of the documents can be verified and validated…

...CHAPTER III
MANUFACTURE OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS

ARTICLE 7
Control of the Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons

1. Member States shall undertake to control the manufacture of small arms and light weapons within their national territories;
2. Each Member State shall regulate the activities of local small arms and light weapons manufacturers and shall undertake to adopt strategies and policies to the reduction and/or limitation of the manufacture of small arms and light weapons so as to control the local manufacture as well as their marketing in ECOWAS region.
3. Member States shall undertake to draft an exhaustive list of local manufacturers of small arms and light weapons and the registration of each of them into the national arms registers;
4. Where production and/or assembly capacities of small arms and light weapons exist within the ECOWAS region, Member States shall submit to the Executive Secretary. This data shall include the type of the arms and their quantity on their annual production.

ARTICLE 8
Measures of Control for Small Arms and Light Weapons Manufacture

Without prejudice to the other measures that Member States will undertake to ensure the effective control of the manufacturing of smalls arms and light weapons on their national territory, a request for the manufacture of small arms and light weapons will not be granted if the requesting person has not given information relating to :

a) Details of the arms to be manufactured – the quantity, exact type and kind of arms using ECOWAS classification system, including all serial numbers and other markings;
b) The procedure for marking; the procedure for entering details of each small arm and light weapon into the national small arms and light weapons register; information on the storage and management of the weapons after manufacture.

CHAPTER IV
TRANSPARENCY AND EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

Article 9
National Database and Registers of Small Arms and Light Weapons

1. Member States shall establish where they do not exist already, national computerised registers and database of small arms and light weapons.
2. The following information shall be recorded in the national registry:
a) Description of the product (type or model, calibre) and quantity (if it concerns a batch);
b) the content of the marking;
c) the names and addresses of the former and current owners and, when possible, successive owners;
d) the date of registration;
e) information concerning each transaction including:
i. the name and address of the shipper, the intermediary (where applicable), the consignee and the user indicated on the end-user certificate;
ii. the point of departure, transit and destination, as well as the customs references and the dates of departure, transit and delivery to the end-user.
iii. the export, transit and import licence (quantities and batches corresponding to the same licence as well as the validity of the license);
iv. full details concerning the method of transport and transporter(s);
v. the controlling agency or agencies (at point of departure, transit and entry);
vi. the nature of the transaction (commercial, non-commercial, private or public, conversion, repair);
vii. where applicable, the insurer and/or the financial institution intervening in the transaction.

3. Records shall be permanently kept in the register.

Article 10
ECOWAS Small Arms and Light Weapons Database and Registers

1. Member States undertake to establish a sub-regional database and register of small arms and light weapons under the ECOWAS Executive Secretary as a way of promoting confidence.
2. The ECOWAS Executive Secretariat shall develop in collaboration with the Member States the procedures for the setting up and management of the database and register as well as the issues to be covered.
3. The Member States shall provide the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat with all the necessary information for the operation of the sub-regional database and register of small arms and light weapons. Member States also undertake to transmit an annual report to the ECOWAS Executive Secretary detailing their orders or purchase of small arms and light weapons...

...Article 11
Register of Arms for Peace Operations

1. Member States undertake to:

a) Establish a register of small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and other related material destined for use in peacekeeping operations both inside and outside the ECOWAS territory under the ECOWAS Executive Secretary as a way of ensuring the control of movements of small arms and light weapons and their effective withdrawal at the end of peace operations in which Member States are participating.
b) Declare in this regard to the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat all small arms and light weapons used in peace operations.
c) Declare to the ECOWAS Executive Secretary all the small arms and light weapons seized, collected and/or destroyed during peace operations on their territory and in the ECOWAS region…

...Article 12
Dialogue with Manufacturers and Suppliers

1. The ECOWAS Executive Secretary and each Member State shall strengthen cooperation and dialogue with national and international manufacturers and suppliers of arms as well as with the competent international and regional organisations in order to ensure their support, respect for and compliance with the spirit and the letter of this Convention...

....Article 13
Prevention of and the Fight Against Corruption

Member States shall institute appropriate and effective measures for cooperation between administrative departments concerned and law enforcement agencies to curb corruption associated with the illicit manufacturing of, trafficking in, illicit possession and use of small arms and light weapons.

CHAPTER V
OPERATIONAL MECHANISM

Article 14
Control of Possession of Small Arms and Light Weapons by Civilians

1. Member States shall prohibit the possession, use and sale of light weapons by civilians.
2. Member States shall regulate the possession, use and sale of small arms by civilians.
3. Authorisations may be granted to permit individual possession of one or more small arms and their ammunition in line with the legislation of each Member State. Applications for such authorisations shall be processed by relevant national authorities. All applicants must the relevant national authority in person...
...4. Member States undertake to implement a strict control regime for civilian possession of the small arms. The authorisation procedure will involve issuing a license from the relevant national authority for each small arm used by a civilian. Member States shall not grant an authorisation if the applicant does not meet the following criteria:
a) The required minimum age;
b) Applicant does not have criminal record and has not been subject to morality investigation;
c) Proof of a legitimate reason to possess, carry or use for each small arms;
d) Proof that the prospective owner has undergone safety training and competency training including training in the relevant laws regarding small arms;
e) Proof that the weapon will be stored in a safe place and separately from its ammunition.
5. Member States shall impose a limit on the number of weapons a licence may cover and require a ‘cooling off’ period of at least 21 days before an authorisation is granted for the possession of each weapon. Member States shall include an expiration date on each licence and authorisations shall be subject to periodic review. Contravention of regulations concerning possession of small arms in private hands will allow the small arms to be seized by the authorities, the licence/authorisation revoked, and adequate sanctions including penalties applied.
6. Member States shall include information regarding the civilian possession of small arms within the national small arm database and register established under Article 9 of the present Convention;
7. Member States undertake to introduce minimum penal sanctions for the illicit possession and use of small arms and light weapons and the carrying of unlicensed small arms.

Article 15
Visitors’ Certificates

1. Each Member State shall take the appropriate measures demanding that visitors wanting to import temporarily small arms covered by this Convention for the duration of their temporary stay in the ECOWAS region, prepare in advance an application including information about the purpose, type and marking of small arms to be imported into one of the ECOWAS territories and to declare the arms on their arrival. Such application shall be addressed to the relevant authorities of the Member State concerned for decision...
...4. All certificates shall be recorded by the Member States concerned in the national small arms register referred to in compliance with the above mentioned Article 9.

Article 16
Management and Security of Stockpiles

1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure the safe and effective management, storage and security of their national stocks of small arms and light weapons;
2. To this effect, Member States shall establish effective standards and procedures for stockpile management, storage and security. These standards and procedures shall include:
a) appropriate site;
b) physical security measures of storage facilities;
c) inventory management and record keeping;
d) staff training;
e) security during manufacture and transportation;
f) sanctions in case of theft or loss.

3. Member States shall ensure that stockpiles of small arms and light weapons by manufacturers, dealers as well as individuals are securely stored in accordance with the appropriate standards and procedures;
4. Member States shall undertake to regularly review, in accordance with national laws and standards, the storage facilities and conditions of small arms and light weapons held by their armed and security forces and other authorized bodies in order to identify, for disposal, surplus and obsolete stocks;
5. The Executive Secretary shall ensure, in collaboration with Member States, that effective standards and procedures for stockpile management of weapons collected in the context of peace operations are duly observed.

Article 17
Collection and Destruction of Small Arms and Light Weapons

1. Member States shall undertake to collect and/ or destroy:
a) the arms which are surplus to the national needs or have become obsolete;
b) seized weapons;
c) unmarked weapons;
d) illicitly held weapons;
e) arms collected in the implementation of peace accords or programmes for the voluntary handing in of weapons.

2. All weapons so collected must be registered and securely stored and or destroyed.
3. Member States undertake to promote and/ or carry out programme of voluntary handing in of weapons.

Article 18
Marking

1. For identification purposes, all small arms and light weapons, their ammunition and other materials, considered as essential by the supplier, shall be assigned a unique and specific marking upon manufacture; this marking shall include the following elements:
2. For small arms and light weapons covered under this Convention,
a) “Classic marking” shall include a unique serial number, the manufacturer’s identity, as well as the identification of the country and year of manufacture. Information concerning the purchaser’s identity and the country of destination should also be included if known at the time of manufacture. The markings shall be expressed alphanumerically. They must be legible and should be featured on a maximum number of main parts of the weapon, and at the very least on the part designated by the manufacturer as essential as well as on one other important part of the arm;
b) A “Security marking” shall be applied to all weapons produced after the entry into force of this Convention. This will permit the identification of the weapons in the event that classic markings have been destroyed or falsified. Security markings must be undertaken on component parts that are not easily manipulated after the weapon’s manufacture, and the falsification of which would render the weapon unusable;
c) Member States that import a small arm that is not marked in accordance with the provisions outlined under paragraph a) and b) above shall:
i Apply a classic marking if the weapons were manufactured before the entry into force of this
Convention;
ii Apply a classic marking and a security marking if the weapons were manufactured after the entry into force of this Convention; failing this, the weapons cannot be imported or must be destroyed.
iii. If the importing country and the year of import are not known at the time of manufacture, the acronym of the importing State and the year of importation are marked by a competent institution in the importing country.

3. For ammunition:
a) The markings shall include a unique lot number, the manufacturer’s identity, as well as the country and year of manufacture. Information concerning the purchaser’s identity and the country of destination should also be included if known at the time of manufacture. These details must feature at least once on the jacket (i.e. cartridge) containing the powder or liquid used in the ammunition or explosive. The markings shall be expressed alphanumerically.
b) The smallest ammunition packaging shall include information outlined under 2(a).

Article 19
Tracing

1. Member States shall exchange information on illicit small arms and light weapons and on seized small arms and light weapons, as well as trafficking in weapons that contravene international law or the internal laws of the States in which the operations take place (condemnation of the person or institution implicated, sanctions, disposal, destruction methods, neutralisation).

2. In the case of other small arms and light weapons, Member States shall exchange the following data on a regular basis:
a) on manufacture (the marking system and techniques used, and authorized manufacturers);
b) on transfers (exports to and/or imports from all other States, transits, information available concerning national legislation, existing practices and controls, authorised dealers and brokers);
c) on existing stockpiles (management, inventory, security, surplus, losses, theft, destruction)…

...7. Member States shall provide reliable responses to tracing requests made by other Member States within one month from the date of receipt of the said request.

8. In responding to a tracing request, the requested Member States shall provide all available information sought by the requesting Member States that is relevant for the purpose of tracing illicit small arms and light weapons.

Article 20
Brokering

1. Member States shall register all citizens and all companies incorporated in their territory that are brokering small arms and light weapons, including financial agents and transportation agents on armament and shall make such registration a requirement for their licit operation.
2. Member States shall ensure that all registered small arms and light weapons brokering agents obtain an explicit authorization for each individual transaction in which they are involved irrespective of where the arrangements take place.
3. Member States shall require that all small arms and light weapons brokering license applications for authorisation provide full disclosure of relevant import and export licences or authorisations and associated relevant documents, the names and locations of all brokering and shipping agents involved in the transaction and the transit routes and points of the small arms and light weapons shipments.
4. Member States shall adopt such legislative and other measures to punish and establish as a criminal offence the illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons.
5. Brokering activities may be assessed under Article 1 and 6 of the present Convention.

Article 21
Harmonization of Legislative Provisions

1. Member States shall undertake to revise and update national legislation to ensure that the provisions in this Convention are minimum standards for small arms and light weapons control and their ammunition as well as other related materials.

2. Each Member State shall adopt legislative and other necessary measures to establish as a criminal offence in the following cases:
a) any activity carried out in violation of the provisions of this Convention;
b) any activity carried out in violation of an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations, the African Union or ECOWAS;…

...Article 22
Strengthening of Border Controls

Member States, in collaboration with the ECOWAS Executive Secretary, shall:

a) Strengthen sub-regional cooperation among defence and security forces, intelligence services, customs and border control officials in combating the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons.
b) Enhancing the capacity of national defence and security forces, law enforcement and security agencies, including appropriate training in investigative procedures, border control and law enforcement techniques, and upgrading of equipment and resources;

Article 23
Public Education and Awareness Programmes

1. In the interest of promoting a culture of peace, Member States shall design public/community education and awareness programmes at local, national and regional levels in order to involve the population in the efforts to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
2. Member States in this regard shall undertake to develop and/or strengthen their partnership with civil society organisations at local, national and regional level including women, youth and others, for better information and raise public awareness on the dangers of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
3. Member States shall encourage civil society organisations to play a leading role in creating awareness and education of the population.

CHAPTER VI
INSTITUITIONAL AND IMPLEMENTATION ARRANGEMENTS

Article 24
Member States

1. Within the framework of the implementation of this Convention, the States Parties which have not yet done so, shall establish through regulation or legislation a National Commission in accordance with Article 51 of the Protocol on mechanisms for prevention, management, resolution of conflict and keeping peace and security and with the enforcement of the decision of the Conference of Heads of State and Government on December 10th, 1999 on the establishment of National Commissions for the fight against the illicit proliferation and circulation of light weapons.
2. The National Commissions shall be established according to the existing ECOWAS guidelines contained in the National Manual prepared by ECOWAS.
3. Member States shall allocate a budget line to ensure effective functioning of National Commissions
4. The Member States shall elaborate their National Action Plans on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
5. Such action plans shall be developed through a national information gathering process involving all relevant national stakeholders including civil society, and the convening of a national forum of all stakeholders to deliberate on the elements to be included in the National Action Plan…

...Article 26
Cooperation Within and Among States

1. Member States undertake to promote intra– and inter-state cooperation in the implementation of this Convention. …

...Article 28
Monitoring the Implementation of this Convention

1. In order to ensure the monitoring of and compliance with the provisions of this Convention, the Executive Secretary shall appoint a Group of Independent Experts who supports him. The Group of Independent Experts shall submit a report to the Executive Secretary.
2. Member States, upon the request of the Executive Secretary, shall provide the Group of Independent Experts with all information at their disposal on exemption request...
...4. Each Member State shall submit an annual report to the ECOWAS Executive Secretary on its activities related to small arms and light weapons as well as other matters in relation with this Convention, in accordance with the format of report developed by the Executive Secretary…”

Scope: 
Regional Africa