Regional meeting on "The Risk of Acquisition and spreading the light weapons in MENA Region"

Within the framework of a regional project in partnership with Permanent Peace Movement and the Federal Republic of Germany – Foreign Office; a Regional Meeting under the title of “ Dangers of Small Arms in the Middle East region” was held on the 18th and the 19th of December 2013 in the Radisson hotel in Beirut.

The Regional meeting started with a speech by Mr.Carsten Meyer-Wiefhausen; the representative of the German Embassy in Lebanon; who addressed the citizens of the Middle East concerning the dangers of possession, useandspread ofsmall arms and the importance of raising awareness. Mr.Fadi Abi Allam; president of Permanent Peace Movement; emphasized the widespread availability of small arms that explains the growing acts of violence and crimes and that the purchase of weapons in political disputes is almost the equivalent of being drawn into the logic of authoritarian and repressive states.

Abi Allam described the current international situation about the Arms Trade Treaty- ATT and highlighted the importance of its ratification by more than 50 states. However, many more countries still need to ratify, and he emphasized on the role of civil society in advocacy for this topic. He also mentioned that this is important in order to contribute to increased human security conditions and to the spread of a culture of peace and human rights.

The conference participants who were coming from Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine spoke about the situation of their respective countries and the many challenges lying ahead. Some expressed the feeling that addressing the issue of small arms in war and post-war societies was difficult. However, in the following sessions, participants thought about possible strategies to address this issue in their societies.

At the end of this regional meeting; the participants put together local action plans in order to increase awareness in their civil societies and toplay a leading role in raising awareness of the dangers of weapons and pressure for laws regulating the possession and trafficking of arms.