Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- The ECOWAS Convention on Light Weapons and Small Arms ca me into force Friday, after the deposit of the 9th instrument of ratification by the Republic of Benin.
The coming into force of the Convention, which provides for a ban of arms transf er by member states with possibility of exemption for the legitimate defence and security needs, law enforcement and participation in peace support operations, was announced on the sidelines of the 63rd ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers , which started here Friday.
The Convention, which also provides for the prohibition, without exception, arms transfer to non-state actors without the approval of the importing country, was adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Gov ernment on 14 June 2006 in the Nigerian capital.
The other member states of ECOWAS that have ratified the Convention include Nige ria, Liberia, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone.
â?The Convention institutionalises the National Commissions as coordinating bod ies of the fight against the proliferation of at national level and establishes a Group of Independent Experts to monitor and evaluate its imple mentation,'' ECOWAS Commission President Mohammed Ibn Chambas said at the opening session of the Council of Ministers meeting.
He expressed the need for the Convention to be ratified and implemented by all t he 15 member states, and pledged to work closely with the other member states who have not ratified the Convention to do so â?in orde r to ensure a tight control of the circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the region.
â? During their two-day deliberations, the Council of Ministers will consider the 2 010 budget of the ECOWAS Commission and its institutions, among other items on the agenda.