Saturday, April 6, 2013

UN Small Arms Treaty giant step in combating trade in illicit weapons: PM Kamla

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Friday hailed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations General Assembly as a giant step for global efforts aimed at combating the illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries on Tuesday voted in favour of the treaty that would regulate the US$70-billion global trade in small arms, light weapons and ammunition.

Lead Caricom negotiator, Ambassador Eden Charles of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the 14 Caricom states, said that the UN system "had adopted an instrument to prevent divergence, that is the movement of small arms to countries and parties to whom they were not intended, and used for illegal activities, including activities related to drug trafficking".

A statement issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Port of Spain later quoted Charles as saying that the governments and people of the region "now have an international instrument which has the potential in the near future to supplement their efforts at preventing the diversion to the illicit market of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, their ammunition, as well as parts and components".

The draft treaty will be open for signature at the UN beginning under the authority of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on June 3, with hopes of ratification and entry into force within a year.

In a media release from the office of the PM Friday Persad-Bissessar noted that small arms and light weapons have been associated with rampant gun violence, and other forms of transnational organized crime "which have affected the social fabric of Trinidad and Tobago, its CARICOM neighbours and further afield". 

She said she is hopeful that when the Treaty is in force it would help Trinidad and Tobago and the region tackle the illegal proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which she described as "a global menace, not confined to the CARICOM region".

In her maiden address to the UN General Assembly in 2010 Persad-Bissessar declared that small arms and light weapons are the “weapons of mass destruction”, in the Caribbean. 

She called on all regional states to join others to establish common international standards to regulate the trade in these armaments, thereby preventing their diversion to the illicit market.

The treaty requires states to assess whether the export or transfer of conventional weapons would contribute to and undermine peace and security, facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law or international human rights law.

In addition states need to assess whether arms transfers could be used to commit or facilitate a terrorist act or an act constituting an offence relating to transnational organized crime.

The Prime Minister also praised members of the Trinidad and Tobago delegation for their diligence and hard work at the conference.

She emphasized that the ATT will only be effective if states enact legislation to give domestic legal effect to the provisions of the Treaty, as well as take advantage of the mechanisms relating to international cooperation and assistance. 

She promised that her Government would "work assiduously" to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago signs and ratifies the agreement when it opens for signature on 3 June.

(with files from CMC)

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai