The German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and the Commissioner of the African Union for Peace and Security, Mr. Smaïl Chergui, met in New York in the margins of the 70th General Assembly of the UN on 1 October 2015. On the occasion of a meeting on Small Arms and Light Weapons they declared a Strategic partnership between the German Foreign Office and the AU in the fight against SALW Proliferation in Northern Africa and the Sahel.
Year by year more people are killed by small arms than by any other weapon. Because they are easy to obtain, to carry, to handle, and to conceal, they are also easily – and massively – available in illicit circuits. Northern Africa is especially affected by the illegal trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons, the conflicts in Libya and Mali having high lightened the challenges the region is facing. What is needed are capacity building measures in the countries of the region, secure weapon and ammunition storage sites and the systematic marking and registering of weapons.
Germany will add to the work of the AU to co-ordinate regional and international efforts in this regard by giving technical and personal assistance to the Secretariat of the AU. At a conference on 16 October in Addis Ababa, Germany and the AU will start a process bringing together all relevant actors of the region and international donors on a regular basis to coordinate the various efforts, inform on ongoing projects, define needs and priorities, create synergies and thus making a difference in the common fight against illicit trafficking of Small and Light Weapons in the region.
The partnership with the AU is part of the overall German engagement in the fight against the illicit trafficking of Small an Light weapons under the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, the Arms Trade Treaty and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which are bringing a ‘significant reduction’ of the illicit weapons trade into the core global development agenda.