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Why it is Important for the International Community to Support Sudan’s Efforts Reigning Illicit Weapons throughout the Country?

Sat, 23.09.2017 11:31



With around one billion of which in circulation globally, the spread and proliferation of small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is ranked today amongst the world’s most pressing security threat; not only they do pose direct threat to security across the world, but also undermine and deplete efforts of peace and stability. In fact the spread of SALW, inter alia, exacerbates conflicts, threatens civilian populations in conflict zones, and endangers the missions of peace-keepers and humanitarian workers. In other words, illicit proliferation, both in areas engulfed in armed conflict and in non-conflict settings, contributes to the increase in global armed violence, to insecurity due to fear of gun violence, and to delaying conflict resolution.
In Africa the spread of arms has continued unabated, despite mounting efforts to control it, due to the nature of African colonial borders in the first place, and the role of third parties and the sinister entry of new actors, particularly the Transnational Corporations interested in the Africa’s untapped and mouth watering natural resources. Thanks to the arms flow and proliferation (95% of which comes from outside), armed conflict costs Africa around $18bn per year, besides seriously derailing development, health and education.
In Darfur, where the conflict could be traced through its historical and colonial roots, the combined effects of the protracted drought and desertification imbued the recurring tribal conflicts and rivalry over water and grazing rights. However, since the late 1970s, the dramatic increase in numbers of victims and fatalities, who fell prey to these recurring tribal showdowns, was primarily a corollary of proliferation - in number and type - of (SALW) in the hands of civilians in Darfur, which was in return a corollary or a direct ramification of the recurring wars in the neighboring Chad, Libya, Central Africa and lately in South Sudan.
For further elucidation, according to statistics, between 2007 and 2017, more than 730 tribal battles took place in the Darfur region, hundreds of people were killed or wounded, as well as large numbers of people displaced. In fact due to the negative repercussions of (SALW), many consecutive tribal reconciliation conferences and initiatives, whether carried out by the state and federal governments, have failed to sustain or pay the aspired dividends; to bring to an end, such despicable phenomenon. In fact stressing seriousness of problem, the Vice President of the Republic, Hasbu Mohammed Abdul Rahman, has recently stated that the number of those killed as a result of tribal conflicts in Darfur, is hundred times bigger than those killed in the battles with the armed groups.
With the spread of around a million pieces of illicit weapons in the hands of civilian populations in Darfur alone, according to official estimations and statistics of Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (DDRRC), the issue of proliferation of weapons in Darfur has turned into a paramount challenge and a major security hazard that mandates necessitates a prompt action, with all the necessary faith and determination. At the end of the day, a responsible government should not allow or tolerate such chaos to undermine its legitimate authority and hinder efforts to promote development.
 
The government of the Sudan, in line with its national responsibilities and obligations, has always been keen to ensure the rule of law, emphasizing the existence of will and ability of its regular forces to provide all the necessary protection to civilians and their properties, particularly by addressing the remnant manifestations of chaos in the post-rebels era in Darfur, namely armed tribal conflicts, armed banditry.
Therefore, driven by its moral obligation to alleviate the human suffering caused by small arms and to work towards greater control of these weapons, the government of the Sudan in 2016 has dauntlessly resolved to develop and implement a strategy and comprehensive road-map, to collect all unlicensed weapons throughout the Sudan, in coordination with (DDRRC), UNAMID and the United Nations Development Program.
Arguably the government chose to start the strategy with Darfur states, only because in Darfur- till further notice, remains obviously the area where the shoe pinches the most. In other words, the excessive accumulation and misuse of small arms, still poses a significant obstacle to the post-conflict transformation in Darfur, and hence to its awaited sustainable development.
Internationally, arms collection campaign in Sudan, comes in total conformity with the ongoing global efforts, spear-headed by the UN, represented in the program of action to Prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons of 2001. Taking into account, its wide range humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, and how they  pose a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development at the individual, local, national, regional and international levels. More particularly the restrictions on the civilian ownership of small arms and a proposed prohibition on the transfer of arms to non-state actors
Moreover, Sudan courageous policy to combat the possession of proliferation of illicit weapons in a way, offers yet invaluable services to the pressing international efforts for combating the global threats and dimensions of international terrorism, illegal immigration and human trafficking.
During the visit of Sudan foreign minister Prof. Ghandour, to Bulgaria in  April this year, Bulgaria's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ekaterina Zaharieva, has described the Sudan as  one of the best partners for the EU in combating terrorism, violent fundamentalism, illegal migration and human trafficking. The Bulgarian FM went on to  describe Sudan as an anchor of stability in a region of no stability. It should be noted here that Bulgaria is shouldering the forthcoming presidency of the EU in January2018.
Regionally, by the same token, and at the time Africa celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity/African Union (OAU/AU), the current Sudanese courageous step, works in homogeneity with one of the salient targets of moving the agenda of the AU substantially forward; mobilizing AU member states to make progress towards achieving the end of ‘all wars in Africa’. Arguably, with the contention that nothing was ever invented has caused as much death and suffering in Africa as the gun, the African leaders during the 28th African Union Assembly in January 31, 2016 in Addis Ababa, have committed themselves to work to ensure that the last bullet in a war zone anywhere in Africa will be shot in 2020, that is almost less than two years from now.
Domestically, and contrary to some politically-oriented claims by some tendentious circles here and there, the firm and widely supported decision of the Government of Sudan to unleash this courageous  campaign, is per se a valid vindication of Sudan’s government commitment and respect for the terms of the accords and agreements it has already signed with its national partners and stakeholders;
1.            The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) signed in July 2012, and hitherto the only international document consolidated to achieve lasting peace in Darfur, which addresses the root causes of the conflict in Darfur and its consequences, and which contributed greatly to the peace and tranquility currently manifested in the states of Darfur, stipulated and mandated the Government of the Sudan to, inter alia, ensure the success of the Darfur arms collection project in order to establish security, stability and peace. In fact the (DDPD) has explicitly called for the reconciliation of the forces of the armed movements and assimilation within the regular forces.
2.            Similarly, the arms collection process is an outright implementation of the recommendations of the comprehensive national dialogue conference and the resulted national document, signed in Khartoum October 2016, by 79 political parties and 23 armed movements.
3. Under the slogan of ‘’Darfur free of weapons” the recommendations of the workshop organized by the Darfur Regional Authority in April 2016, has stressed inter alia, the need for the state to adopt the disarmament program and appealed for the assistance of the international community, besides, intensifying efforts and taking precautions to combat arms smuggling across borders to ensure the control of all illicit arms.
4.            In addition, the process of collecting weapons was met with unprecedented support from the different political and societal forces; just to name a few, Sudanese most prominent opposition figure, leader al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Chairman of the Umm National Party, has described the presidential decision to collect arms in Darfur states by the right decision. Likewise, The President of the Party of Liberation and National Justice d. Tijani Sisi praised the decision, pointing out that his party was the first to introduce the initiative to collect weapons and actually prepared a roadmap for disarmament.
In line with the mounting prospects of the imminent lifting of American sanctions which already started to crystallize and take shape in the horizon, Mr. Paul Steven, the director of the office of the American envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, during his visit to Darfur last April 2017, has reiterated the great progress has resulted in the situation in Darfur and the importance of dealing with the issue of the armed militias and unruly groups that undermining the citizens' security in Darfur.
The senior American official has equally lauded the great efforts being carried out by the government in supporting the stability and security in Darfur states, inter alia, collecting weapons and handling the issues of the displaced people. Promising that the US administration will work together with the government and donors for boosting the development and stability endeavors.
As Sudan’s regional role is proved pivotal and rather insurmountable in combating transnational crimes, illegal immigration and human trafficking..Extra, the international community is highly awaited and anticipated to increase its political and financial support for the current arms collection campaign in the Sudan, which remains by and large, the biggest challenge and the cornerstone for a lasting peace and stability in the Sudan and beyond.
By Mubarak M.Musa Diplomat;

Embassy of Sudan in Ukraine, Kiev

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