Support for the national commission for the control of small arms and light weapons in Côte d’Ivoire
Title: Support for the National Commission to fight against the Proliferation and Illicit Traffic of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Commission Nationale de lutte contre la prolifération et la circulation illicite des armes légères et de petit calibre – ComNat ALPC-CI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Foreign Office
Country: Côte d’Ivoire
Lead executing agency: Ministère d’Etat, Ministère de l’Intérieur et de la Sécurité (MEMIS)
Overall term: 2011 to 2016
The armed conflicts of the past decade have had an adverse long-term effect on the peaceful coexistence of the different ethnic groups in Côte d’Ivoire, undermining the country’s relative political stability. Given the pervading atmosphere of insecurity, the weapons currently in illegal circulation are not only in the hands of traditional hunters and security firms. Youth unemployment and the lack of prospects for young people, as well as a large number of unresolved conflicts over land and a more general sense of uncertainty have encouraged broader sections of the population to arm themselves.
After the stockpiles of the national security forces were plundered in 2010/2011, the illegal possession of weapons increased so dramatically that the security forces faced the heavily armed criminals and ex-combatants practically unarmed for a very lengthy period. The army, gendarmerie and police have now made considerable progress in marking and registering their legal weapons, while the UN has helped to rehabilitate the weapons and munitions stockpiles, increasing their level of security. Recently, the UN Security Council began allowing Côte d’Ivoire to mark the illegal arms collected and to return them to the security forces provided that certain conditions are met. All this has contributed to a lasting improvement of the security situation.
However, due to the limited effectiveness of the security and judicial systems there is still widespread impunity and arms are freely used for criminal activities and acts of revenge.
The national commission for the control of small arms and light weapons (ComNat ALPC-CI), which was created by presidential decree in April 2009, is advising the Government and security forces on the planning and introduction of a comprehensive small arms policy. However, the commission does not yet possess adequate resources and competences to control and combat small arms effectively.
Lasting control of small arms and light weapons in Côte d’Ivoire improves the security of the people and helps to restore the state monopoly on the use of force, thereby contributing to peaceful development.
ComNat ALPC-CI is able to better fulfil its function as a key institution for the improvement of small arms control vis-à-vis security forces in Côte d’Ivoire and in the ECOWAS region.
GIZ supports ComNat ALPC-CI by providing expert advice, capacity development measures and international know-how. It places short-term experts with the commission, organises study trips and finances activities in connection with small arms control.
The support is intended to significantly raise the profile of the commission within the country. It is to be enabled to perform its overall tasks successfully and in accordance with international standards, and implement projects with professionalism.
ComNat ALPC-CI’s profile has improved as a result of frequent weapon collections, a broad-based awareness-raising campaign and clearer positioning in security institutions.
Setting up an electronic data collection system that records all instances of armed violence at the national level and allows the administration and security forces to access this information has enhanced the importance of ComNat ALPC-CI.
ComNat ALPC-CI’s project management skills and performance capacity have clearly improved, which is also attracting the attention of other donors.
The GIZ-funded awareness-raising campaign ‘I want to contribute to peace and am voluntarily handing over my weapon!’ is having an impact.
From April 2013 to July 2014, more than 530 weapons, over 13,000 rounds of ammunition and almost 200 grenades were collected. Furthermore, over 8,000 weapons that were no longer usable were destroyed.
In addition, well in excess of 19,000 weapons were marked with the new national code, thereby identifying them as legal weapons. With the support of GIZ and other donors, electronic registers have been set up for such weapons in all sections of the security forces.
In Côte d’Ivoire, around 46,000 ex-combatants have now returned to civilian life.