Ratification Of The Arms Trade Treaty3299 27 Jun, 2013
RATIFICATION OF THE ARMS TRADE TREATY
Mr. Felix: I rise to present my case for A Partnership for National Unity, in relation to the motion calling for the “Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty” standing in the name of the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs. This treaty intends, eventually, to stop the flow of conventional weapons around the world in various areas of armed conflicts. On the 2nd of April, 2013 the General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty regulating the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircrafts to warships. This treaty aims to foster peace and security by halting the destabilising arms flow to conflict regions. It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms and it will keep warlords, pirates and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools.
In the international arena, the impact of the absence of regulations and lose control on the arms trade results in suffering visited on civilian populations trapped in situations of armed violence in settings of both crime and conflict, often in conditions of poverty, deprivation and extreme inequality where there are frequently on the receiving end of the misuse of arms by state-armed forces, non-state armed groups and organised criminal groups.
In the preamble of the treaty one of the clear intentions is expressed as follows:
“Underlining the need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade and conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market or for unauthorised end use and end users, including the commission of terrorist acts.”
After years of contemplation, this first international conventional arms control treaty has covered a wide array of pertinent issues, with a secretariat to coordinate the activities of member states and to ensure compliance with the treaty. The treaty places full responsibility on states to provide legislation consistent with the terms of the treaty to prevent illicit and illegal trade from diverting the weapons, subject of the treaty, to unauthorised end-users.
The Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed by Guyana on 3rd June 2013, infers that Guyana agrees with the terms set out in the treaty and would unhesitatingly proceed to take those steps necessary to bring legislation to this House to fulfil the requirements of it. Article 2(1) of the treaty states, or as itemised, conventional weapons to which the treaty applies and they range from battle tanks combat aircrafts, attack helicopters to small arms and light weapons. Article 2(2) of the treaty recognises international trade to comprise export, import, transit, trans-shipment and brokering or transferred but the treaty does not intend to interfere with the international movement of conventional arms by or on behalf of a state party for its use once those arms remain within the state party’s ownership. Some of the requirements set out in the treaty are:
• Each state party is required to establish and maintain a national control system to regulate the export of ammunition, monition fired launch or delivered by conventional arms. This control system is also to be applied to the export of parts and components, but due care is required to ensure that the arms to export is in no form to be reassembled.
• There is the requirement for each state party to establish and maintain a national control system and control list to implement the provisions of this treat. The control list, pursuant to international laws of the state party, must be provided to the secretariat which would be circulated to other state. States parties are also required to take measures to implement the provisions of the treaty and shall designate competent national authorities to regulate one or more national points of contact. The treaty is also dealt extensively with import brokerage and diversion of conventional arms to unauthorised end-users. States parties’ signatories to the treaty are required to maintain national records of its issuance of export authorisation or its actual export of conventional arms.
• There is too a very strong reporting requirement. Each state party is mandated to submit an initial report to the secretariat within the first year of the implementation of the treaty of measures taken to implement this treaty. By 31st May each year a report must be submitted to the secretariat by each state concerning authorised or actual exports and imports. The treaty seeks to foster international cooperation by encouraging states to cooperate by exchanging information and consulting on matters of mutual interest.
To implement this treaty, international assistance is promised. Each state party may seek assistance, including legislative institutional capacity, more importantly for Guyana model legislation and effective practice and implementation.
Having listened to the extent to the conventional arms treaty, one must ask whether this Government, with its record of signing treaties overseas and returning to Guyana and failing to do anything about them,... There was a recent experience, so the point must be questioned whether this Government has the commitment to implement the treaty and its requirements. We must note that Guyana has large uncontrolled borders and illicit arms enter freely. There are airstrips, illegal airstrips discovered now and again all over this country, in which drugs and arms and other illegal activities are facilitated. It is therefore in our interest to cooperate with international community to ensure that we fight against this nefarious and to aid help ourselves to ensure that illicit arm is intercepted before it reaches Guyana.
There were our experiences, unpleasant though they might have been. There was the assassination of the Minister of Government through the use of illicit weapons by criminals. There was the Lusignan experience. There was the Buxton experience. There was the Bartica massacre. There were other unpleasant experiences in which people have been shot in their beds. The Government is hardly able to protect the fishermen from pirates; it is hardly able to protect the miners in the interior. Almost every month there is a robbery in the interior.
Mr. Speaker: The Government depends on the police force to provide that protection.
Mr. Felix: It is without resources, without training that is a serious problem, and with bad political management, worst yet.
This is an important motion which APNU supports, but we must bemoaned Government’s attitude in making a step forward and not following through with the correct action. We hope that this Bill receives the full support of Government and that it brings the legislation to this Parliament to give effect to this treaty, which is what is required to make the treaty operable in Guyana. I now say, without any reservation, that A Partnership for National Unity supports the motion, but expects the Government to do its part. All my very good friends over there are to play their respective roles in ensuring that the correct thing is done and that we are able to add our lot to prevent the circulation of illicit arms and ammunition around the world.
Thank you. [Applause]
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