Search

 

Cablegate: Nigeria: Ecowas and International Red Cross

VZCZCXRO7166
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2201/01 3150818
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100818Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4395
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0046
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1484
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0471
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0228
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002201

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA, PM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MASS PHUM ICRC ECOWAS NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ECOWAS AND INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS
SPONSOR SALW CONFERENCE

REF: ABUJA 503

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: From October 27-29, ECOWAS and the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) co-sponsored
a seminar on international humanitarian law treaties in West
Africa entitled "Even War Has Limits." Poloff attended the
October 29 session, which was open to observers from foreign
missions, and which dealt primarily with the implications of
small arms/light weapons (SALW) control efforts for the
region. With the first speaker giving a basic explanation of
the ECOWAS Small Arms Convention and a subsequent speaker
offering presentations on "The Explosive Remnants of War" and
"The Convention on Cluster Munitions," the event provided an
interesting look at efforts within ECOWAS to encourage member
states to ratify the SALW protocol, as well as to muster
support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions to be signed
in Oslo on December 3, 2008. Attendees included
representatives from every member state, the chairman of
Nigeria's National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons
Air Commodore Danjuma Otaru, and key Commission for Political
Affairs, Peace, and Security (CPAPS) officials. The event
was deemed a success and showed ECOWAS's maturity as a
regional organization and its determination to strengthen the
civil aspects of regional security, beyond the standing up of
the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF). END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The October 29 portion of the ECOWAS-ICRC Seminar on
International Humanitarian Law Treaties in West Africa, "Even
War Has Limits," dealt with several SALW topics as they
pertained to ECOWAS member states. The first presentation,
"Ratification and Implementation of Small Arms Convention in
West Africa," was led by Dr. Cyriaque Agenekethom, head of
ECOWAS's Small Arms and Light Weapons Unit in CPAPS. Dr.
Agenekethom first covered the basic goals of ECOWAS's Small
Arms Convention, which included the creation of a legal
framework to strengthen SALW control; the consolidation of
the gains of the 1998 Moratorium on the import, export, and
manufacture of SALW; and continued assistance to member
states in efforts to regulate the flow of SALW into and out
of their borders. He also spoke on several specific
Convention articles that dealt with the matter, especially
Articles 4-6, which set out the parameters of how member
states request an exemption from the Convention. Six states
have already ratified the Convention -- Niger, Burkina Faso,
Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Togo -- and only two more member
nations need to do so to bring the Convention into force.
Attendees at the conference made a strong plea for the
remaining nine countries to ratify the convention. (Note: Air
Commodore Otaru reports that the Convention is currently in
President Yar'Adua's hands, though it has been there for some
time; he hopes it will be ratified in Nigeria in the near
future. End note.)

3. (U) Peter Herbby, head of the ICRC's Legal Division's Arms
Unit, spoke on "The Explosive Remnants of War," highlighting
the devastating effects of unexploded ordnance on societies
emerging from conflict. He claimed that "mines, cluster
munitions, and explosive remnants are all weapons which can't
stop killing" due to their failure rate and the fact that
they may remain in place for decades after peace is declared;
furthermore he claimed the problem is worsening due to ever
more efficient ways of delivering larger quantities of
ordnance. He specifically singled out the 1997 Ottawa Mine
Ban Treaty, which banned anti-personnel mines, as a
tremendous step forward in SALW control, and also mentioned
the 2003 Protocol on the Explosive Remnants of War as
especially effective, inasmuch as it assigns responsibility
for ordnance clean-up in post-conflict regions.

4. (U) Herbby started his second lecture, entitled
"Convention on Cluster Munitions," by showing a 16-minute
presentation on the difficulties faced by civilians in areas
where cluster bombs have been dropped, particularly in
southern Lebanon, where both sides used cluster munitions
during the 2006 fighting between Hezbollah and Israel. He
described the key sticking points during the negotiations
surrounding the May 2008 adoption of the text of the

ABUJA 00002201 002 OF 002


Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin, including the
adoption of a legal definition of cluster munitions and the
conduct of joint operations with non-Convention states. He
also gave tips on how to defeat the argument that cluster
munitions can be a military necessity. The rest of the
session was spent urging member states to sign the Convention
in Oslo, with one ECOWAS official encouraging member states
to "shame the world" by portraying themselves as the victims
of these weapons. (Note: The only known use of cluster
munitions in West Africa was by Nigeria in Sierra Leone in
1997. End note.)

5. (SBU) COMMENT: U.S. opposition to the Cluster Munitions
Convention was addressed only tangentially during the
conference, but later Herbby told Poloff he had recently
visited with PM officers in the Department to discuss
possible avenues of cooperation between the U.S. and
campaigners. Pleas to support the ban are falling on fertile
soil in West Africa, as signing the convention will cost
ECOWAS nations nothing and will in return gain them
international goodwill.

6. (SBU) COMMENT CONT'D: This event showcases ECOWAS's
increasing maturity and ability to coordinate with other
interested parties in order to reach its goals -- ICRC
Regional Delegate Jacques Villetaz noted that this
conference, the first of its kind, could not have taken place
a few years ago given ECOWAS's state of development then. It
also shows its effectiveness in building up the civilian
aspects of its conflict prevention and resolution
capabilities, which have remained stunted relative to its
efforts in standing up the ESF (reftel). But the real work
remains: the signing of international unexploded ordnance and
cluster munitions treaties are mostly feel-good measures in a
region devastated by SALW proliferation -- which continues
largely unabated via corrupt officials and the region's
porous borders. END COMMENT.

7. (U) This cable coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
Sanders

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: