Many countries in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions have for long shared the global concern that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons escalates violent conflicts, increase criminal activities, undermines political stability, and has devastating impacts on human and state security. The proliferation challenge is further worsened by internal strife, illicit transfers of weapons across borders and extreme poverty.
The Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) is an intergovernmental body comprising of 15 Member States in East and Central Africa, has been mandated by the Heads of States of the countries to coordinate regional and national actions against arms proliferation in the regions.
On Thursday, May 21, an African Development Bank-supported project targeted at strengthening the institutional capacity of RECSA and Member States was launched in Nairobi. The meeting was opened by a representative of the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Kenya. Representatives of development agencies, embassies and civil society attended the launching.
Gabriel Negatu, Director of the Bank’s East Africa Regional Resource Center (EARC), gave an opening speech to welcome the partnership with RECSA, especially as it relates to how the project can contribute to better understanding of the linkages among arms proliferation, peace, stability and development. He challenged the false dichotomies between security and development, arguing that we need both for a safe and prosperous Africa. He further reiterated that many of the conflicts and fragility concerns within the two regions are very regional in scope and impact; ultimately requiring regional solutions. By building the capacity of a regional body like RECSA to deliver on its mandate, the Bank is ultimately supporting regional structures for peace- and state-building efforts.
Colleagues from the Bank’s Transition Support Department (ORTS) presented the Bank’s strategy for addressing fragility and building resilience which focuses on a number of focus areas including: strengthening state capacity and effective institutions; promoting inclusive and equitable access to basic services to build resilient societies; and lead in policy dialogue, partnership and advocacy. The Technical Assistance and Capacity Building to RECSA (TCB-RECSA) project is funded from the Transition Support Facility (TSF) managed by ORTS.
The meeting ended with recommendations to RECSA on how the reduction of proliferation of small arms could help to reduce fragility and help build resilience and stability in its member countries. The general consensus among the participants was on the nexus between peace and security and development.