In Côte d’Ivoire, small arms control improves chances for peaceful development

26.03.2015 – The socio-political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire has seriously threatened the security situation. GIZ is supporting the national commission for the control of small arms and light weapons in order to curtail the spread of illegal weapons.

In the past twelve years, conflicts in Côte d‘Ivoire have threatened the peaceful coexistence of the various population groups. The unstable security situation has led to the uncontrolled spread of and illegal trade in small arms, which has further fuelled the violent conflicts. In 2009, the government set up a national commission for the control of small arms and light weapons in order to stabilise the country's security situation, thereby taking an important step towards peace.

In order to pave the way towards sustainable development, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been supporting the commission since 2011 on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office. GIZ is working at various levels to establish an effective policy on small arms and light weapons. The primary focus is to raise the profile of the national commission's work within the domestic policy framework. A nationwide awareness-raising campaign is having an impact: In collection campaigns from April 2013 to July 2014, more than 530 weapons, over 13,000 rounds of ammunition and almost 200 grenades were collected. Over 8,000 weapons collected in other campaigns were destroyed. GIZ also provides support through advisory services and training measures. In addition to providing courses and study trips for security personnel, handbooks and prevention strategies have been drawn up on effective small arms control.

In an attempt to restore the state monopoly on the use of force, more than 19,000 weapons have been marked with the new national code, thereby identifying them as legal weapons. To help the security forces in their work, GIZ helped set up an electronic data system that records incidences of armed violence and registers weapons.

The measures not only make a significant contribution to improving the security situation but also have an impact on other areas of society. For Kora Gouré Bi, GIZ project officer, sustainable development and small arms control are inextricably linked. 'The circulation of small arms in a country hinders opportunities for development. Security is the foundation without which the state cannot perform its core functions and fulfil its duties and responsibilities towards its citizens,' says Gouré Bi.