West Africa's economic bloc ECOWAS said Monday independent experts from Africa, Europe and the United States had endorsed a draft convention for the sub-region to check the menace of small arms and light weapons after a two-day meeting in Nigeria.
The draft convention will replace the eight-year-old regional Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons, which was signed by regional leaders in October 1998, the 15-member Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) said in a statement.
Among the novelties in the 20-page draft convention, prepared by ECOWAS consultants, are sanctions and monitoring mechanism for the violations of its provisions.
This will "equip the region with the instrument to curb the inflow of these categories of arms," the statement said.
The provisions of the convention, which will consolidate the gains of the moratorium, include the exclusion of non-state actors from importing arms and the requirement that precludes the importation of arms without the consent of the relevant member State.
"It also includes a provision for the publication of an annual report by international experts that will name and shame violators, " it stated.
The statement said the review of the draft convention by international experts was one of the prior processes to be completed ahead of its approval by heads of state and government of the region in June 2006.
"The approval will be preceded by advocacy campaigns by the ECOWAS small arms unit in member states to sensitize the public about its provisions to facilitate its ratification by the parliaments of member states," it added.