Madam Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council (PSC),
Mr. Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union (AU),
Mr.Executive secretary of Regional centre on small arms (RECS),
Mr. Representative of the United Nations Disarmament Affairs (UNODA),
Ladies and gentlemen,
Lomé, the Togolese capital, is honored to offer its hospitality and its setting to the launch of the African Union Amnesty Month 2022 edition.
I would first of all like , on behalf of H.E.M. Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, President of the Togolese Republic, to wish you a cordial and warm welcome to our country and thank the African Union for having chosen Togo to host this important event which is being held for the first time outside the headquarters of the African Union, thus fulfilling the wish of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union which decided, at the previous edition, to now launch the celebration of the month of amnesty in a Member State.
It is therefore a privilege for my country to host this first celebration outside the headquarters of the African Union and I express the wish that it can contribute to the achievement of the fundamental objective for which it was established, namely , contribute to silencing the guns in Africa in line with Agenda 2063 , by creating a general and sustained awareness of the negative impact of the uncontrolled use of firearms, and the importance of limiting their proliferation as well than their illicit circulation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The establishment of a month of amnesty is a commendable initiative of our continental institution.
It is rooted in the African security context where conflicts unfortunately persist, fueled by multifaceted factors and the tendency of civilians to acquire weapons to protect themselves. This situation is exacerbated by the scourge of the proliferation and circulation of weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons (SALW), which unfortunately are vectors of insecurity on our continent when they fall into the hands of individuals without faith or law.
Since it was instituted in 2017, this celebration has made notable progress in the collection of illicit weapons in different countries through various programs.
However, despite the successes recorded here and there, it is undeniable that challenges still face our countries directly because, according to statistics, more than 40 million illicit weapons are still circulating in our territories and are the source of more than 500,000 deaths per year.
This is a source of major concern and you will agree with me that we have no other option than to redouble our efforts to meet these challenges which constitute serious obstacles annihilating the development of our States.
This means that this initiative retains all its relevance with regard to persistent security threats and I am therefore delighted that it has been extended until 2030, in the hope that the decade that we have already begun will be an opportunity for our States to achieve more resounding successes in our fight against the scourge of the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons.
Togo, like other countries, is concerned about the scourge of the illicit circulation of weapons, which takes on particular importance nowadays in West Africa, where these weapons serve as fertile ground for the multiplication of crimes of all kinds, to rampant terrorism against a backdrop of religious proselytism.
That is why the Togolese Government is resolutely committed to combating it, in all its forms. Thus, in accordance with the ambitious program of action of the United Nations aimed at preventing, combating and eliminating the illicit trade in small arms in all its aspects, measures are being taken by my country, at the national level, to stem the phenomenon.
These measures include, inter alia, raising awareness, tracing and marking weapons, not to mention their destruction.
The ceremony of symbolic destruction to which I invite you this afternoon is of great significance. It is the culmination of my country’s constant efforts and proof of its resolute commitment to combating the irregular circulation of arms.
I urge all Member States of the African Union to take advantage of this month of September dedicated to amnesty by taking initiatives towards the destruction of illicit weapons. This can only contribute to the pacification of our dear continent which is a sine qua non condition for its development.
Thank you !