Liberia Establishes National Commission on Small Arms
(MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Thursday, August 23, 2012): President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says Liberia will continue to make substantive contributions to maintaining peace and stability within its borders and in the sub-region.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader spoke Thursday, August 23rd, at a ceremony marking the coming into effect of legislation establishing the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms.
According to President Sirleaf, it is argued that small arms and light weapons are the real weapons of mass destruction because of the scale and scope of the mayhem they cause worldwide, even though they account for just one-fifth of the global arms trade. “Small arms kill and maim more people than conventional weapons,” she said.
Speaking further, the President told the gathering that Liberians can attest to the destructive impact of small arms; adding that the Mano River Union countries have seen and experienced the devastating and destructive effects of these small arms and light weapon. “We know that their small sizes make them accessible to young children, and during our civil conflict this contributed to the widespread use of child soldiers,” the President emphasized.
President Sirleaf noted that the proliferation of small arms and light weapon pose a significant threat to peace and stability, not only in Liberia, not only in the sub-region, but throughout the world since they are the weapons of choice and necessity of rebel movement. “This Act establishing the National Commission is but one additional step in our effort to control small arms and light weapons and to combat the illicit trade in arms,” she said, adding, “It is one step toward our commitment to continue to work with other individuals, institutions and countries to bring the arms trade under control and to see if we can stop these weapons that continue to destroy our countries and kill our people.”
She promised that Liberia’s membership in regional and international organizations and its influence in the world will be used to continue to advocate for stricter controls on the trade and availability of these weapons.
President Sirleaf assured that Liberia will remain an ardent advocate for the control of small arms and light weapons and will continue to invest in the potential of the country’s children, giving them the requisite education, marketable skills and the economic environment that will enable them to thrive. “Our action today removes another obstacle to the creation of that environment,” she emphasized.
Earlier, the Minister of State without Portfolio, Conmany B. Wesseh, who has served as Chairman, ad interim, of the Small Arms Commission, called on Liberians to cultivate a sense of doing things because it must be done, and not because of what one gets from doing something. He rejected allegation that US$50,000 was awarded to members of the National Legislature to enact the Law on Small Arms.
Minister Wesseh described President Sirleaf as a “Global Champion on Small Arms” because she led the process of the destruction of such weapons when serving as Director of the Africa Bureau of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General in the 1990s. He noted that without small arms, the capacity of war makers will be diminished or non-existent.
He informed the audience that, as Goodwill Ambassador on Small Arms Control globally, he has devoted his life to ensuring that the proliferation of small arms is halted.
He acknowledged the roles of the Ministries of National Defense, Justice and Foreign Affairs, as well as UNDP, for supporting the efforts that led to the formulation and passage of the Law on Small Arms.
Margibi County Senator, Clarice Jah, who chairs the Senate’s Committee on Executive, acknowledged the consensus that existed over the passage of the new Law. She attributed such attitude to the importance which members of both Houses of the National Legislature placed on eradicating the flow of small arm across the country. She said the reality of being attacked by a person with a weapon is reason to draw the support of all Liberians for the legislation on Small Arms,” Senator Jah emphasized.
The House Committee Chair on Security, Representative Alfred Kpawu, dispelled rumors that US$50,000 was dished out to members of the Legislature for the passage of the Law on Small Arms. He advised Liberians to get away from the current wave of distrust and mistrust, adding, “Members of the Legislature have work to do and they will always do so well.” He noted that security is everybody’s business, a reason that took he and other legislators on a security visit to Côte d’Ivoire recently.
Mr. Jerolinmek Matthew Piah