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Nigeria becomes first African country to ratify Arms Trade Treaty

Nigeria has become the first Africa country to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, has announced.

“This landmark event represents our deep commitment to a treaty which establishes common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms,” Mr Ashiru said after the signing of the treaty in New York this week.

Olugbenga Ashiru does his bit for peace.

“We remain resolute and unyielding in our efforts to uphold the principle of ATT and, in particular, ensure that small arms and light weapons are appropriately transferred and access denied to terrorist groups, pirates, bandits and the like,” Mr. Ashiru commented while signing the treaty.

He also noted Nigeria co-sponsored the treaty and coordinated the African group throughout the process of negotiation of the treaty.

According to the minister, the adoption of the treaty was a realisation of efforts that started in 2006, following the adoption of the United Nations resolution 61/89.

Mr. Ashiru explained that the resolution recommended the establishment of common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

The Treaty is based on a simple principle: that there should be no international transfers of weapons likely to be used for violations of international law. It moves to establish common binding standards that are applied to assess international weapons transfers. These standards are based on existing international law including international human rights and humanitarian law.

In practice, this means that Nigeria has agreed to stop a transfer of weapons if there is evidence that the weapons are likely to be used for grave violations of international human rights, humanitarian law, or will adversely affect sustainable development.

AOAV is currently working in Nigeria to understand the impact of armed violence there. We recently launched of an interim report on the ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of armed violence in Nigeria.

The interim report was a result of a large-scale research exercise conducted in 17 states and Abuja. It identified 495 organisations, including 281 civil society organisations, who go someway to tackling violence in this volatile region.

One of its findings is that security is not only the responsibility of government security forces, but that civil society organisations also contribute to curbing violence. Speaking at all events, the National Coordinator of the Working Group said: “Security is everyone`s business and all hands should be on deck to combat armed violence.”

On the matter of the Nigerian signing of the ATT, the spokesperson for Control Arms and a member of AOAV’s board, Anna MacDonald, noted that throughout the negotiations on the ATT, Nigeria was a leader for the African continent.

“We are proud of Nigeria’s leadership again today as Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru simultaneously signs and ratifies this first ever global agreement regulating the transfer of arms and ammunition,” she said. “Africa has long suffered the impact of an arms trade that is out of control. From Somalia to Mali to the DRC, weapons have been entering conflict zones and increasing the level of violence for decades.

“Other African countries must now step forward and follow Nigeria’s lead,” she explained. “The continent needs an ATT that is in effect and implemented as soon as possible. With over 80 countries’ signatures and several ratifications since the treaty opened for signature, there is momentum to urgently ensure the ATT becomes international law and starts saving lives. Fifty ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force, and we call on all states to get to work on their national legislation as soon as possible.”