General News of Saturday, 6 April 2013
The United Nations General Assembly has approved the first-ever global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
The treaty will now regulate the high number of conventional weapons traded each year and make it more difficult for them to be diverted into the hands of those with the intent of sowing seeds of war and conflict.
A total of 154 member-states voted for the adoption of the resolution on the treaty. Three countries voted against the decision, while 23 countries abstained from the vote. A UN position paper obtained by Ghana News Agency from Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the UN at the New York on Friday stated.
According to the UN position paper, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, described it as a historic diplomatic achievement “the culmination of long held dreams and many years of effort.
“This is a victory for the world’s people. The ATT will make it more difficult for deadly weapons to be diverted into the illicit market and it will help to keep warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and their like, from acquiring deadly arms”.
Mr Ki-Moon noted that the ATT would be a powerful new tool in our efforts to prevent grave human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law. He explained that it would provide the much needed momentum for other global disarmament and non proliferation efforts.
Applauding the member states, civil society groups, among other states for their willingness to compromise on a number of complex issues, thus making it possible to have a balanced and robust treaty text, Mr Ki-Moon called on all governments to join forces with civil society to ensure its full and effective implementation.
He said: “The United Nations will provide its full support as we strive to fulfill the great promise of this landmark global instrument,” adding that the adoption of the treaty demonstrates great things that could be achieved when governments and civil society work together through the UN.
The President of the ATT Conference, Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia, commended all delegations for “working hard and negotiating in a constructive manner and looking for success”, adding that the different interests and perspectives in the conference room required working through complex issues.
Each version of the text built on previous ones, Mr Woolcott said, represented “a fair expression of negotiation, compromise between many different interests in the room and ultimately what might command consensus at the end of the final conference.”
The General Assembly President, Vuc Jeremi? of Serbia said the final text was robust and actionable apart from being “groundbreaking”.
He pointed out that arms-exporting countries would be legally bound to report arms sales and transfers. They would be obliged to assess whether the weapons they sold could be used to facilitate human rights abuses and humanitarian law violations.
At the same time, the treaty protected the rights of its signatories to regulate the buying and selling of conventional armaments, he said; as well as the primacy of national legislation in defining the conditions under which citizens could own and operate arms.
Mr Jeremic drew a link between the presence of weapons across the developing world and the challenges of safeguarding sustainable development and human rights.
In the specific case of Ghana, civil society’s collaboration with the government on the one hand, and West Africa Action Network on Small Arms and Light Weapons (WAANSA) partnership with ECOWAS on the other hand, has been very instrumental in helping to promote the success of the treaty.
Many delegations hailed the Treaty’s adoption as a historic event, which would “raise the bar” for regulating conventional arms trade without hampering legitimate commerce.
Its adoption also reaffirmed their faith in the United Nations’ ability to establish legally binding rules.