Disarmament: Agreement Between the Republic Niger Government and the ORA
1995 PEACE AGREEMENT
Section III. Restoration of Peace and National Reconciliation
The Committee will have as its mission:
1. to supervise the application of the Agreement and the timetable established by it.
2. to ensure that the stipulations of the Agreement are widely spread and that there is a campaign of explanation of it among the Nigerien population.
3. to supervise the execution of the disarmament operations and the recuperation of all arms, munitions and war material.
4. to determine the number of people before starting the integration work.
As regards the ORA, it engages to disarm and demobilize its elements.
As agreed in the peace agreement, the Special Peace Committee (SPC) was formed with representatives from the government and ORA. The first meeting of SPC took place on 23 May 1995. One of the urgent tasks of the SPC, as discussed in the meeting, was to come up with the name list of ORA demobilized elements. This list was particularly important for the implementation of the provisions of the accord relating to integration, reintegration, and recruitment into the army, paramilitary forces, state-owned corporations, high schools, university, public administration and development projects. Another urgent task was said to draw up the list of arms, ammunition and war materiel - to be returned to the authorities - so that their recovery and storage could be effectively controlled.1
However, problems arose in 1995 with regards to demobilization and the rebel leader Rhissa Ag Boula, the chairman of the Organization of the Armed Resistance, said that there would be no disarmament in the absence of the conditions for demobilization.2
No developments observed this year.
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord in Niger met from 3rd - 5th September 1997 to discuss issues related to the reintegration of former armed rebels into Niger's national army including disarmament.
On disarmament, parties agreed that “the date for the end of the encampment is scheduled for 30th September 1997. On that day, the signatory parties will take all the necessary steps to ensure that disarmament is complete and definitive, and this is to be confirmed by mediators and financial backers. There will be an evaluation of the exercise on 25 September 1997.”3
“The ex- rebels encamped for several months in their base will be disarmed on 21 October, a month later than planned, and the encampment will end two days later.”4
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord met for the fourth time in Niger on 22 April 1998. The meeting, chaired by the prime minister, was attended by members of the government and leaders of the former rebels. As discussed in the meeting, a lot of efforts have been made by both the government and the former rebels to strengthen peace and confidence among themselves and the demobilization (encampment) and integration exercise went on satisfactorily. Disarmament was officially celebrated on 28 October last year at Tchin-Tabaradene.5 But, it was not clear how many arms were collected or destroyed.
- 5. "Peace accord committee meeting opens in Niamey," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, April 24, 1998.
No information is available on disarmament. It was not clear how many arms were collected or destroyed.
The 1,243 weapons surrendered as part of the peace agreements were subsequently destroyed at a Flame of Peace ceremony on 25 September 2000 in Agadez.6 However, the disarmament process, carried out after the signing of the 1995 peace agreement, was not very successful as weapons still existed.
On August 11, 2000, the President Mamadou Tandja received the UN disarmament mission. Mission head Joao Bernardo told reporters that “First, we have observed the seriousness of the problem of weapons proliferation in Niger, and we know very well the nature and origin of the problem. Second, there is a strong political determination by all the partners involved in the peace process to address seriously the problem of weapons proliferation. This was evident in our discussions with members of the government, national weapons commission members, representatives of the former rebels and community representatives. That, for us, is the most encouraging element of our visit.”
“This political will is clearly expressed through the creation of structures and the adoption of measures to combat the proliferation of illicit weapons in the country. We have also drawn the conclusion that these structures need support and aid from the international community in general and the UN system in particular. It must be stressed that this visit is only the first step in a process of engagement of the United Nations and the international community in support of the Niger government in order to help resolve the problem of weapons proliferation.”7 Though the disarmament of the rebel groups began much earlier, the establishment of the UN disarmament mission suggests that a new step was taken complete the disarmament process.
A mission of the national commission for the collection of illegal weapons was in Diffa on 1 December 2001. The president of the national commission and the project coordinator interacted with the community members about the project. The mission was an initiation to implement the moratorium signed by UN member states in Abuja on light weapons. In the specific case of Niger, beyond the collection and destruction of the weapons, the project was meant to provide further security to the people and to start development activities. Thus, the communities which would turn in their weapons to the project would in exchange receive funding for the micro-projects they develop. For this phase, which was to last almost two years, the project was to be allocated $1 Million from the United Nations Development Program. Already, 50 per cent of the funds had been secured, and the activities of the project might start in January 2002. Therefore, the members of the mission asked everyone to give their advice so as to make this phase successful. This type of project was supposed to continue and would be extended to other regions, where the proliferation of firearms was a threat to development.8
- 8. "Niger: Weapons collection body arrives in Diffa to launch pilot project," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, December 26, 2001.
In September 2002, more than 1,200 arms were destroyed.9
- 9. “Niger (PCPAA, 2006 – 2007),” School for a Culture of Peace, 2008, accessed August 1, 2010, http://escolapau.uab.cat/img/programas/desarme/mapa/niger08i.pdf.
As of September 2003, a total of 1,188 weapons had either been surrendered voluntarily to the National Commission on Small Arms or seized by the authorities.10
- 10. Florquin, N. and E.G. Berman, eds., "Armed and Aimless: Armed Groups, Guns, and Human Security in the ECOWAS Region," 321.
No exact figure is available on the number of combatants disarmed. However, it was reported that 100 weapons were destroyed each on 5 March and 24 August 2004 in Agadez.11 The UNDP project designed to encourage disarmament was terminated in 2004 as scheduled. It was expected to collect 5000 weapons from July 2001 to August 2004. Whether this target was met or not is not clear.
- 11. Florquin, N. and E.G. Berman, eds.,"Armed and Aimless: Armed Groups, Guns, and Human Security in the ECOWAS Region," 321.