The continuing problem of Illicit Trade in Small Arms in the Pacific region was brought under the microscope in Apia last week.
It happened during a regional Parliamentary Workshop on Mobilizing Parliamentarians to Advocate for Improved Compliance with the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Organised by Parliamentarians for Global Action (P.G.A.) in consultation with the Legislative Assembly of Samoa, the workshop convened Legislators from across the region to review and discuss steps taken, or that may be taken in the near future, to Address the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in the region.
Acting Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, opened the workshop.
There were presentations from the United Nations Resident Coordinator and U.N.D.P. Resident Representative in Samoa, Simona Marinescu; and High Commissioner of New Zealand to Samoa, David Nicholson.
Other presentations came from the Acting Attorney General, Galumalemana Noumea Loretta Teueli; Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, and P.G.A. member from Samoa, Taefu Lemi Taefu.
The Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons is a continuing problem and challenge in the Pacific Islands Region, and has had a particularly negative impact in terms of the rise of number of cases, reported and unreported, of domestic armed violence affecting women in particular.
The negative impact of this illicit trade manifests itself, not only in terms of loss of life and serious injuries, but also in terms of a negative impact on achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and has been widely documented in recent years, in particular the disproportionately adverse impact on Women in many domestic violence cases occasioned by this illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The Government of Samoa has ratified the Arms Trade Treaty in June 2014 and in 2016 submitted a comprehensive Report on its Compliance with the UN Programme of Action Addressing the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
In the context of Weapons of Mass Destruction (W.M.D.), Samoa ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in September 2017.
As such, Samoa serves as an excellent inspiration to a number of other countries in the region to follow suit.