In one of the areas of the world hit hardest by the scourge of the irresponsible weapons trade, the Great Lakes Region of Africa appears to be primed for a shift toward more responsible arms transfer policies. From 9-11 June, CEDAC, the leading Control Arms Coalition member in Burundi, held a regional workshop to discuss the way forward for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in the region. About 60 participants from governments and civil society gathered in Bujumbura, Burundi for the workshop that focused ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The aim of the meeting was to deepen understanding of the Arms Trade Treaty, and to share knowledge and expertise necessary for its ratification by Burundi. The meeting was a great success, preparing the way for a Burundian government meeting in July on ATT ratification, which it is hoped will follow soon after; and discussing needs in the Great Lakes region for ratification and implementation of the ATT. The meeting was informed by first Secretary Mziza of the Rwandan Embassy that Rwanda will complete its ratification process in coming weeks. CEDAC Director, Eric Niragira, announced the formation of a committee to monitor and promote ratification and robust implementation of the ATT throughout the Great Lakes region.

“By the end of the workshop, it was clear that participants had a clear knowledge of what the treaty is, what are the ratification processes along the way, and what should be done in the region to have the treaty ratified for the enforcement of peace in the region. ”

– CEDAC Director, Eric Niragira

Speakers and participants included Honorable Felicien Nduwuburundi, vice-President of the Defence Commission of the Burundian National Assembly, Brigadier General Deo of the Burundian Army; First Secretary Mziza of the Rwandan Embassy; Martin Butcher, Arms Policy Advisor at Oxfam; Julie Claveau, Burundi Director for Action on Armed Violence; as well as members of Burundian and Congolese NGOs active in the fields of disarmament, conflict resolution, armed violence reduction and peacebuilding.

African countries played a vital role in the negotiations of the ATT, not least of which was ensuring ammunition was included within the treaty’s provisions. Control Arms welcomes the continued progress being exhibited by governments within the Great Lakes region and urges other African states to follow this example and work toward ratification as soon as possible.

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