17 June 2010

Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa: A Resource Guide for Religious Communities

by Allison Pytlak, Religions for Peace

“Diverse African religious traditions know—each in their own way—about the inviolable, “God-given” dignity of each person. Working to end the plague of small arms and light weapons is a religious duty, because these miserable weapons contribute so massively to the abuse of so many innocent people”.
-Resource Guide Letter of Welcome from Dr. William F. Vendley and Dr. Mustafa Ali

Religions for Peace presented its new resource guide on SALW in Africa during a side event this morning. This resource guide is designed for religious leaders, communities and organizations at all levels to better understand and respond to the many problems posed by small arms and light weapons, as well as the issues that fuel their use and trade.

The first section provides basic information and definitions, as well as connections to other issues such as development, health and gender. It also outlines some important agreements among states that govern the trade in small arms. The second section outlines four types of responses to small arms. They are organized to help us see that response can be from the perspective of demand, availability, supply and aiding victims of armed violence. Finally, the third section provides helpful advice on how to take action through advocacy, media engagement, mobilizing youth and raising public awareness.

The guide will be disseminated through the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL), the regional body of Religions for Peace which is based in Nairobi but coordinates the work of councils in over twenty countries across the continent. It was first launched in Kigali, Rwanda during a meeting of senior religious leaders and youth, in March 2010. A French version is scheduled to be released shortly.

In order to ensure that religious leaders and communities can make use of the guide, the organization has also launched a small grants program for its affiliates in the region. It is now supporting projects such as workshops and trainings, translation into local languages and engagement with youth and women of faith in the context of gun violence.

The event was chaired by Mr. Stein Villumstad, Deputy Secretary General of Religions for Peace. Other presenters included Mr. Joseph Dube, IANSA Africa Coordinator, Ms. Allison Pytlak, Disarmament Program Coordinator at Religions for Peace, Rev. Fred Nyabera of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) and Ms. Angela Baiya from the Regional Action Centre on Small Arms (RECSA).

For more information about the guide or Religions for Peace please contact Allison Pytlak at apytlak@religionsforpeace.org.

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