Controlling small arms and light weapons (SALW)
Reducing and controlling trafficking of light weapons and small arms, half of which (or 4 million weapons) are used for illegal purposes in Western Africa, is essential to improving regional security. The proliferation of light weapons following armed conflict is a major hindrance to reform in the fields of justice, security, reconciliation, improved social cohesion and economic revival.
France provides its support to the programmes implemented by the UNDP at the level of the regional organisations (CEDEAO) and countries (Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi), building upon experience-sharing in the fragile setting of post-crisis recovery.
Technical and financial support to the ECOWAS’ 15 Member Countries implies creating national commissions to control light weapons. The Light Weapons Group at the Executive Secretariat is also a beneficiary of capacity-building, through the Programme for Light Weapon Control (ECOSAP), as regards the development of policies on implementing the Moratorium, adopted by the countries in the sub-region on this type of weapon.
In the DRC, the UNDP’s programme supports strengthening of the national and local security system, in particular through the national and Community police forces. It also promotes alternative means of existence, by implementing individual micro-projects in socio-economic reintegration for illegal weapons-holders and involving the relevant communities in projects to reconstruct basic services.
In Burundi, the creation of democratically-elected institutions in 2005 has put an end to ten years of civil war. Yet the number of weapons owned - estimated at 100000 - by the civilian population exacerbates an environment of growing insecurity marked by frequent violence and violations of Human Rights.
The UNDP’s work is focused on providing support and advice to the government, through local structures, such that the Technical Commission on Civil Disarmament, which is aimed in particular at carrying out work to harmonise the legislation with that of neighbouring countries.
The aim is also to improve the control and destruction capacity of surplus weapons and civil and military munitions. Lastly, the programme encourages collecting arms using the “arms against development” model, through awareness-raising actions, taking into account the possibilities for improving security in urban areas.
Training the Anti-Drug Police and Brigade for the Protection of Minors in Afghanistan
The massive production of opium (over 8000 tonnes in 2007) and the emergence of a narco-State in Afghanistan creates a major challenge for national institutions and the international community involved in the country’s stabilisation process. The growing share of drug trafficking in the country’s overall economy, the risk of slippage into mafia control of the administrative and police system, the infiltration of trafficking agents into the Parliament, and the connections of the said networks with the Taliban are all threats to the political and economic reconstruction process undertaken since the Bonn Agreements, supported by France.
The said process is, moreover, directly subject to the consequences of drug trafficking, insofar as 90% of the heroine currently consumed in Europe comes from Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs thus lends its support to the Afghan Police Force’s Anti-Drug Units. The Afghan Police continue to be largely under-equipped when it comes to qualification and resources for ensuring protection for minors, including a large number of orphan or abandoned children, who are victims of abuse violating basic human rights.
French cooperation lends its support to the Central Laboratory operated by the Kabul Technical and Scientific Police. It runs training programmes and supports the action brigades at the Anti-Narcotics Department, known as the NIU (National Interdiction Units) and CNPA (Counter-Narcotic Police of Afghanistan), as well as brigades specialised in protection for minors (perpetrators or victims of misdemeanours). It also works in favour of respect for Human Rights and the Fight Against Illegal Immigration and participates in the construction of four custody centres for minors.
Lastly, it deploys the said multi-sector capacity-building action in the field of training for judges and Parliamentarians.
Support for Stronger Rule of Law in Central African Republic
Despite the success garnered by the election process in 2005, the Central African Republic continues to be faced with serious fragility: extreme poverty in the populations, and listless economy, severely run-down State administrative institutions, serious and repeated attacks on civilian peace, a threatening regional environment (Chad, Sudan), recurring instability in the legal and judiciary system.
In light of this, the French government, in agreement with the Central African Government, set up a project designed along three main avenues. The aim is to foster the consolidation of peace and security by training the security forces in such a way that they respect and defend the republican institutions. The project is also aimed at supporting the reform and reconstruction of the legal system, through initial, continuing and specialised training programmes for workers in the sector. Lastly, media reinforcement efforts include the creation of a legal framework conducive to the development of independent and multi-partisan media and a contribution toward professionalizing journalists.
Supporting Penal and Penitentiary Reform in Niger
Niger has made substantial strides in strengthening the Rule of Law and upholding Human Rights since the revival of the transition process into democracy, in the late 1990s. However, a long period of political and institutional instability has led to inadequacies, in particular in the legal and penitentiary fields (inadequate prison sentences, limited training for penitentiary workers, overcrowded prisons).
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs backs the Support Programme for Judiciary Reform (PARJ) instituted by the Nigerian authorities in 2003, by taking a global approach to the penitentiary sector: looking for alternatives to imprisonment, supporting legal reform and promoting Human Rights.
It supports the implementation of initial training initiatives for National Guard members in the field of penitentiary surveillance, multi-faceted continuing training by local instructors (penitentiary rules, conflict prevention and management, hygiene, Human Rights), roving training programmes on Human Rights and criminal law, training for instructors to offer initial responses to the issues of treatment of minors, delinquency and social reintegration. That action is rounded out by recently-initiated debate with all of the stakeholders (administration, legal jurisdictions, social workers and civil society), in particular about alternative sentences to imprisonment.
Working toward post-conflict management and reconstruction - Protocol Agreement with the UNDP
In 2006, France signed an EUR 8 million Protocol Agreement with the UNDP, which consists of two segments: support for post-conflict reconstruction in the Central African Republic and in Sudan, and a contribution two of the UNDP’s thematic funds dedicated to conflict prevention and recovery, on the one hand, and democratic governance, on the other.
In the Central African Republic, the aim is to restore security under the Programme for Veteran Reintegration and Support for Central African Communities, and to establish transitional justice that is accessible to all. In Sudan, the objective is to support the construction of a legislative and operational framework and to build the steering capacities of the new government in Southern Sudan.
Through responsibility-sharing with the other donors, France’s participation in the UNDP’s two thematic funds extends to 15 projects. The Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery includes a project in Senegal (Assistance in Mine Action), two projects in Mauritania (Insuring a Lasting and Peaceful Democratic Transition and a Support Project for the Humanitarian Mine Removal Programme), a project in Burundi (Supporting the National Humanitarian Action Programme against Mines), a project in Liberia (the Support Project for Women testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), a project in Uganda (Reconstruction Programme in the Lira District), three light weapon and small arms control programmes (ECOSAW, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi), two projects in Togo (Consolidating the Rule of Law through the Rehabilitation of the Legislative Foundation and Capacity-Building for Magistrates in the Courts of Justice) and a project in Mali (Project to support Shared Governance of Security and Peace). The thematic fund for governance encompasses four projects: support for the modernisation of the penitentiary sector in Algeria, promotion of access to justice, in particular for women in Cambodia and Niger, and a project to support capacity-building for the Ministry of Justice in Djibouti.
Supporting transitional justice mechanisms
Transitional justice as understood within the framework of the fight against impunity is a process launched when Human Rights have been massively flouted in a State, in order to contribute to democratic governance, post-conflict management and the reinstatement of Rule of Law. In practice, it gives rise to several different mechanisms, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs encourages the development of think-tank action on transitional justice, in particular in post-crisis countries, all the while giving priority to the debate on the fight against impunity and the decisive role of the International Penal Court and the United Nations.
Active cooperation on the issue has been launched with Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, giving rise, in 2006, to the organisation of an initial conference in Yaoundé, on “transitional justice in the French-speaking world”, in partnership with the United Nations’ Sub-Regional Centre in Central Africa and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs this specialised NGO, which also held a regional seminar in Bogotá in 2007, with the support of French-Swiss cooperation.