on Ecumenical Action on Small Arms In West Africa
Organized by FECCIWA in co-operation with the WCC
26-28 November 2002
December 10, 2002
A stimulating and successful consultation on ecumenical action on small arms in the West African region was held recently in Abokobi, near Accra, Ghana. The conference, organized by the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), provided an opportunity for churches in West Africa to develop a clear and cohesive action plan towards reducing the proliferation -- and dealing with the negative human consequences -- of small arms in the region.
The consultation brought together participants from member churches and national councils of churches in West Africa, FECCIWA, FECCLAHA (Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa) and AACC (All Africa Council of Churches). Representatives from the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA), International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and resource persons from peace and human security organizations also participated. The agenda included a series of seminars from respected speakers on the sub-regional, international and ecumenical dimensions of the issue of small arms, followed by round table discussions to share experiences and lessons learned from national situations. Deliberations reflected the fact that the main concern of the churches is to address the social and political factors that contribute to a demand for small arms in the first place.
The resulting Programme of Action, adopted as a working document, offers practical and positive means by which the churches can effectively tackle armed violence in West Africa, in areas such as awareness raising, improved controls and legislation, reduction and removal of small arms, increased involvement of women and youth, victim support and strengthened linkages and partnerships.
Ms. Salpy Eskidjian, WCC Programme Executive for International Affairs, Peace and Human Security, highlighted the ecumenical role in dealing with the issue of small arms, stating that “churches are often left to deal with consequences of small arms, acting as a first point of contact for individuals who have suffered from the adverse consequences of small arms proliferation”. As such, she said, “the church has a moral and ethical obligation to stop the proliferation of small arms.” She extended to FECCIWA and its members the WCC’s full support, solidarity and prayers.
Mr. Baffour D. Amoa, the Secretary-General of FECCIWA, expressed the “need for the engagement of ECOWAS…in the issue of armed violence” to “make sure that budgets reflect a bias, not for military expenditures, but for social and health elements” and urged the churches to advocate towards those ends. He further expressed the need for churches to pursue practical goals, as opposed to empty rhetoric, and committed FECCIWA to provide information and capacity-building assistance to member national councils.
For a copy of the Programme of Action or more information on this conference, please contact Heather Exner at WCC Contact .