Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020: Perspectives for West and Central Africa 

08-01-2021

Excerpt from the report: "In Africa, the largest quantities of seized weapons seized were registered in Angola and Kenya. Aside from the prevalence of shotguns generally, notable proportions of machine guns were seized in Tunisia and of submachine guns in Burundi. In Central African Republic, aside from miscellaneous weapons such as grenades, artisanal weapons and cannons, the remaining seized weapons were predominantly rifles and submachine guns.

However, many countries in Africa and Asia appear to have a lower capacity to intercept and report trafficked firearms, which may lead to underreporting of some types of firearms. Moreover, the total figures reported by countries include seizures which are not directly connected to trafficking. Based on customs seizures at borders, rifles emerge at par with pistols. This suggests that firearms such as rifles may play a bigger role in global trafficking patterns than what is reflected in the currently available data.

However, many countries in Africa and Asia appear to have a lower capacity to intercept and report trafficked firearms, which may lead to underreporting of some types of firearms. Moreover, the total figures reported by countries include seizures which are not directly connected to trafficking. Based on customs seizures at borders, rifles emerge at par with pistols. This suggests that firearms such as rifles may play a bigger role in global trafficking patterns than what is reflected in the currently available data". 

 

The webinar was co-organized by the UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP) and by UNODC’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN). The event took place on 27 November 2020 with more than forty practitioners from the target sub regions as well as representatives from sub regional organizations and donor countries. The webinar was aimed at presenting the main findings, conclusions and policy implications of the Global Study on Firearms 2020 for West and Central Africa to experts, practitioners and policy makers from the respective sub regions.

The opening ceremony started with remarks from Leonardo Lara, on behalf of UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme, welcoming and thanking participants for their presence in the webinar. He also mentioned the recent publication of the Executive Summary of the Study in French (available at: Ex_Summary_FR.pdf (unodc.org)) The activity was officially opened by the Deputy Representative of ROSEN, Kameldy Neldjingaye, who highlighted the existing links between different types of trafficking in the subregion as well as the need to better understand this. 

                                                                              
Participants during the question and answer session of the Webinar

After the opening, the substantive session of the webinar began with a presentation from ROSEN’s Research Section, delivered by Alessandra Scalia. She stressed the importance of understanding the problem to be able to have proper policy options, and proceeded to detail UNODC’s current efforts in developing a threat assessment for the two sub regions, focusing not only on firearms but also on the links between different types of crimes, in particular to terrorism. The main presentation on the results of the Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 was delivered by Jacques Ndour, Regional Coordinator of the GFP for West and Central Africa. He focused on the main results from the study, highlighting in particular the data from ten countries in the two subregion that was used in the current issue. Mr. Ndour highlighted, inter alia, the importance of continued efforts in gathering data, and working with countries in collecting it as well as analysing it to make use of it. He also mentioned the different types of existing trafficking modi operandi in the subregions and the prevalence of ant trafficking. 

These presentations from UNODC were followed by interventions from two Member States. For the Central Africa Republic, Jean-Pierre Betindji, Permanent Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons mentioned the challenges in collecting data and thus the importance of providing technical assistance to this end. He also mentioned, how, for the 2020 Firearms Study, data provided for the Central African Republic was collected by MINUSCA through its police service UNPOL. He also spoke of some of the recent efforts that the Commission has put in place, including a new Arms Law -developed with support from UNDOC-, and on the proper registration of firearms. On his part, on behalf of the Cote d’Ivoire, Anzian Koadja, Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, stressed the importance of strengthening border control measures in order to fight illicit firearms trafficking more effectively. He mentioned ongoing operational efforts on this end carried out in coordination with UNODC and INTERPOL. He also mentioned the important role that National Commissions in West Africa can have in the use of iArms in order to support the tracing of firearms. 

To close the panel, there was a presentation by Anne-Severine Favre, Data Expert from the Small Arms Survey, who mentioned the importance of UNODC’s data collection efforts to support the monitoring and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically target 16.4 of significantly reducing illicit financial and arms flows […] and combat all forms of organized crime. She stressed also the importance of focusing on other indicators that can help paint the picture of overall trafficking flows, and how there should be such efforts at the regional and national level. 

The meeting ended with a lively question and answer session in which many speakers took the floor to share their experiences, including representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Togo, inter alia,  as well as from MINUSCA and the UN Regional Centro for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC). Highlights included a call for the inclusion of gender perspectives in data collection work as well as in legislative frameworks on firearms control.