UNODC supports the fight against the spread of illicit firearms in Senegal

This activity was financed by Japan and Norway

West Africa continues to be seriously affected by the manufacture and proliferation of firearms and ammunitions, fueling transnational organized crime and terrorism.

The control of this phenomenon is therefore a cross-cutting objective in the context of preventing and addressing armed conflicts and organized crime and should be a key component of any effective security and stability efforts in the region. 

In Senegal, small arms are most often found in the border regions and in the south, due to the armed conflict that has occurred in Casamance. The availability of firearms in the country risks an increase of criminality and community armed violence and can also facilitate many crimes such as cattle rustling, armed robbery or hold-up.

To combat this phenomenon in Senegal, the National Commission to Combat the Proliferation and Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (ComNat-ALPC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the Global Firearms Programme, have decided to conduct a national campaign to raise awareness, collect, register and mark legal firearms and destroy illegal ones, with the financial support of Japan and Norway. 

   
         Experts marking firearms during the campaign
            Group picture of the participants during the                              community meeting of Tambacounda

This campaign ran from 2014 to 2018. In addition to marking, which improves the traceability of firearms, the awareness objective was to make authorities and population aware of the danger of using Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). The promotion of women's involvement in the fight against the proliferation of SALW also marked the entire campaign through the participation of women's groups during community meetings and meetings with the authorities held in Thiès, Ziguinchor, Mbour and Bignona in April 2018 and in Kédougou, Tambacounda and Saint-Louis in July 2018.

Map of Senegal

More than 1000 beneficiaries were reached through these meetings (women, men and young people) in different areas considered to be the most affected by the phenomenon of the illicit circulation of SALW (border areas, manufacturing sites of artisanal firearms, etc.). Messages disseminated by members of civil society grouped within the Senegalese Action Network on Small Arms (RESAAL) focused, inter alia, on national arms legislation, procedures for the purchase, carrying and possession of firearms, the voluntary surrender of illegally held firearms and the links between SALW and other forms of crime.

According to the report of Senegal's ComNat-ALPC, the role of civil society in combating the proliferation and illicit circulation of SALW is particularly important, especially as inclusive security and community intelligence are effective responses to current security threats.

The awareness campaign was conducted by RESAAL and the campaign for the collection, registration and marking of firearms by the Subcommittee on Defense and Security Forces. A total of 17,298 firearms were marked in 2018, including 5,400 belonging to the paramilitary bodies (Customs, Water and Forests, Penitentiary Administration and National Police), 5,599 firearms from the National Gendarmerie and 6,299 from the National Army. These activities were conducted by 15 experts trained in marking and registration of firearms by the ComNat-ALPC of Senegal and UNODC.

This initiative is part of a sub-regional approach to combating the circulation of firearms implemented by the UNODC Sahel Programme through a similar campaign achieved in Niger in 2018 and started in Burkina Faso in 2019. Indeed, firearms trafficking is an integral part of the crime and security challenges in West Africa and is addressed by the UNODC Regional Programme.

This campaign to combat the illicit circulation of SALW, through awareness-raising, marking/recording, collection and destruction of firearms, contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDO) 16.4.2 to reduce the circulation of firearms, to which Senegal is committed, as well as to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2370 to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons. Through this campaign, it is also ODD 5 that is impacted by the involvement of women in awareness raising activities.

For more information:

UNODC Sahel Programme

Niger: UNODC organizes an awareness raising campaign to collect and destroy firearms