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Ambassador Lans Gberie’s welcome address at Conference of States Parties

29 September 2020 at 20:47 | 883 views

On behalf of Sierra Leone, I take this opportunity as President of the 7th Conference of States Parties (CSP7) to welcome States Parties and all other Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) stakeholders.

During this CSP7 cycle, our work will focus on consolidating the accomplishments of the ATT. We will prioritise the implementation of ATT decisions from the Conferences of States Parties, especially CSP6. We will base our decisions and actions on consensus. In pursuit of this goal, we look forward to engaging with all stakeholders, including civil society and industry. Our efforts will involve using existing ATT mechanisms – including our working groups, international assistance programmes, the Voluntary Trust Fund, and the Sponsorship Programme – to help improve the oversight capabilities of States Parties, particularly with respect to stockpile management and the national control systems in place to regulate the transit and trans-shipment of small arms and light weapons across borders.
We as States Parties and our partners - arms producers and non-state actor stakeholders - have a shared responsibility to help prevent or ameliorate the scourge of armed conflict by promoting accountability and transparency in the transfer of conventional arms. This is critical to ensuring domestic, regional, and international peace and security. To this end, we aim to advance the ATT’s ongoing universalisation work to secure more ratifications and accessions by stakeholders who are yet to become fully part of the ATT community.

The overarching objective of our presidency is the proper regulation of the international trade in conventional arms as part of the global framework for arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament. We speak from experience when we say that this regulation is key to reducing the threat of armed conflict, help end it where it is already ongoing, and mitigate the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that often occur in conflicts. This is why this presidency, with the support of its bureau, will strengthen efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and ensure efficient stockpile management. We will particularly focus on the role of states, arms manufacturers and exporting nations in promoting responsible, accountable and transparent conventional arms transfer systems and enhancing stockpile management and disposal by States. Far too often in the recent past, weapons legally acquired by States end up being used by forces that they were not meant for. Illicit transfers and diversions from official stockpiles have become major issues in conventional arms regulation in many countries in Africa and elsewhere. This is why this presidency, in collaboration with its bureau, will pay particular attention to the international trade in, and movement of, small arms and light weapons.

This task, already challenging, has become more difficult given the problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us hope and plan that during the CSP7 presidency we will return to some form of normalcy that will allow us to meet in person again, though with some anticipation that the pandemic will continue to impact upon our work. We will therefore need to consider carefully how we can best organise ourselves over the coming year and let us be united in our efforts to find alternative means to conduct our work should circumstances force us to do so.

Sierra Leone wishes to reiterate its commitment to working with all ATT stakeholders and counts on the professionalism of our Secretariat, the active contribution of the bureau members, chairs and facilitators of committees and subsidiary bodies in advancing the ATT’s objectives and purposes. I thank you all for your trust and confidence in Africa’s second presidency of the ATT.

H.E Lansana Gberie
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone

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