From 4 to 6 July 2018, for her first trip to Africa as Under-Secretary-General and High-Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu traveled to Togo and visited the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) – the operational arm of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) that covers 54 Member States in the region.
Following the recent launch of the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda for the 21st Century – “Securing Our Common Future”, this visit to Africa took on special significance, as the continent is confronted with security challenges exacerbated by the illicit acquisition and transfer of small arms and light weapons with deadly consequences. As highlighted by the High Representative, disarmament is a driving force for maintaining international peace and security as well as a tool for ensuring national security, upholding the principles of humanity, promoting sustainable development and protecting civilians – who continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict on the African continent.
During her visit, the High Representative inaugurated the new premises for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, which are offered by the Republic of Togo to help the Centre expand to better assist fifty-four African Member States. Since 1986, Togo has been the host country for UNREC.
On the same occasion, the High Representative, alongside Togolese authorities and representatives from Japan, officially launched the project on “technical assistance for physical security and stockpile management, marking and destruction of small arms, light weapons and related ammunition in Madagascar and Togo”. The project was developed at the request of the governments of Togo and Madagascar, with financial support from Japan and several Togolese private-sector institutions. The project aims to improve and modernize the overall physical security and stockpile management system, including practices for marking government arms and weapons held by private persons. It also addresses the destruction of stockpiles of seized and obsolete weapons and ammunition and the construction or rehabilitation of arms depots in full compliance with the international small arms control standards (ISACS) and the international ammunition technical guidelines (IATG).
The High Representative met with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Security and Civil Protection of Togo and conveyed UNODA’s appreciation for their hosting of and support to UNREC. Ms. Nakamitsu also conducted meetings with the diplomatic corps in Lomé, as well as the UN Country Team.
The High Representative met with UNREC’s staff to discuss the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda and UNODA’s initiatives and potential projects in the region.