By Martha Nakimuli
The Leader of Uganda’s delegation to the Pan African Parliament, Hon. Cecilia Atim-Ogwal has appealed to African leaders to address factors that lead to people taking up arms against their governments.
Hon. Ogwal also appealed to the international community to help African countries in addressing unemployment and idleness among the youth on the continent – which forces them to resort to violence and use of arms.
“The youth comprise a big social group. We need to address idleness and unemployment and prevent them from getting into violence,” said Hon. Ogwal.
This was during a workshop for the Pan African Parliament Joint Committee on the Arms Trade Treaty with the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, South Africa, October 17 – 18, 2013.
The workshop was attended by legislators on the PAP committees on Trade, Justice, Transport and International Relations.
The UN General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty on April 2, 2013, regulating the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. It is believed that the Treaty will foster peace and security by preventing the flow of destabilizing arms to areas of conflict.
112 UN Member States have signed the ATT since June; 31 African countries have signed the ATT, while 22 including Uganda are yet to sign the Treaty.
Hon. Ogwal said that proliferation of small arms across porous borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya are hampering development of those countries and their people. She also said that both the supply and demand factors of the small arms must be addressed, if governments want to eliminate illegal trade in fire arms.
“It’s those countries which understand the importance of democracy that supply lethal weapons to countries that lack democracy. People will kill themselves,” she said.
She also appealed to governments to involve women, who suffer most in times of conflict, in advocating for the elimination of illegal trade in arms.
Hon. Onyango Kakoba (NRM, Buikwe North) said the Treaty, which is among states, will remain a challenge to implement where failed states are involved.
“How do we ensure that arms trade is controlled in these (failed) states? If they are not stabilized, arms trade will continue in those countries,” he said.
Mr. Peter Barcroft, the Director Projects, PGA, said that the ATT does not limit legitimate trade in arms since countries have a legitimate right to defend themselves, but prevents arms getting to the wrong people including terrorists.
He said, when properly implemented, the ATT has the potential to address issues of loss of life due to violence.
Meanwhile ,the Third Ordinary Session of the Third Pan African Parliament is set to open with an address by H.E Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe,President of Togo at the Gallagher Centre in Midrand South Affrica today , Monday, October 21, 2013.
Uganda’s delegation to the continental body including Hon. Cecilia Ogwal , Hon. Onyango Kakoba (NRM, Buikwe North), Hon. Barumba Rusaniya (NRM, Kiruhura district), Hon. Amooti Otada (Ind., Kibanda) and Hon. Jacqueline Amongin (NRM, Ngora district) travelled to Midrand, South Africa early last week to attend the Session.