Regional Seminar on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and the Management of Conventional Weapons in West Africa

Lomé, Togo
5-7 December 2023
Regional Seminar on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and the Management of Conventional Weapons in West Africa

The United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) co-organised a “Regional seminar on the prevention of violent extremism and the management of conventional weapons in West Africa”, from 5-7 December 2023, in Lomé, Togo.

The seminar brought together more than 60 participants from some fifteen countries – senior officials in public administrations responsible for the management of conventional weapons or the prevention of violent extremism (PVE), members of national human rights commissions, national and local members of parliament, representatives of the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), members of civil society, research institutions and think tanks as well as individual experts.

The seminar was opened by H.E. Hoadabalo Awate, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralisation and Development of Territories, Togo, Ms. Simone Haeberli, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland to Ghana, Togo and Benin, Mr. Nahmtante Anselme Yabouri, Director of UNREC, and Dr. Cécile Aptel, Deputy Director of UNIDIR.

For two and a half days, participants examined existing and potential ways of preventing violent extremism by acting on its causes through a holistic approach to conventional weapons management. In doing so, they were inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s vision of a New Agenda for Peace which encourages integrating small arms and light weapons control into development and armed violence reduction activities, as well as into prevention strategies. This agenda, together with the African Union Vision 2063 and the ECOWAS Vision 2050, accompanied the discussions

Overall, participants have emphasised the urgent need to prompt a change of approach in responses to armed violence: a holistic approach to the management of conventional weapons, focused on prevention and centred on people and human security. To this end, it is essential that all relevant actors engage in a concerted manner and at all levels to address the root causes of such violence. This perspective, focused on the demand for weapons, should complement responses addressing their supply.

Participants have also conveyed recommendations to foster such a holistic, prevention-focused approach to conventional weapons management. These include: increased information on the supply of and demand for weapons, fora for multi-stakeholder dialogue and exchange of good practices, cooperation between national weapons management and PVE institutions, reflection of linkages between PVE and weapons management in national strategic documents as well as in regional, continental and international frameworks, ensuring or re-establishing State’s regalian role as guarantor of people’s security and its monopoly on weapons, adequate weapons management, and harnessing the role of women and youth.

Participants finally recommended that the seminar should kick off a broader regional process aimed at alimenting a community of practice to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices in including conventional weapons management in PVE and vice versa. Such a process could also prompt a formal framework for regular meetings between national PEV and weapons management institutions, an assessment of existing national and regional frameworks for conventional weapons management and PVE and their interconnection, and the elaboration of regional guidelines by ECOWAS for taking account of weapons management in PVE and vice versa.

The final conclusions and recommendations of the regional seminar are contained in the summary of conclusions (in English and French) uploaded on this page. In addition, a summary report of the seminar will be published and disseminated in early 2024.


The Seminar Summary Report can be consulted here