Trinidad and Tobago calls signing of Arms Trade Treaty a landmark achievement

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Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran signing the Arms Trade Treaty. [UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe]

The first ever international treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons "opened a door of hope" to millions of people living in deprivation and fear because of the poorly controlled trade and the proliferation of those deadly weapons, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week as the instrument opened for signature, with more than 60 delegates lining up to pen their names.

Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran said "This is a landmark achievement for Trinidad and Tobago and the world and it has come at a time when our country has embarked on a policy of engagement in its diplomatic affairs.

He said that during a recent visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, decisions were taken to expand the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to deal more effectively with the very significant security challenges facing CARICOM and the Dominican Republic.

“These include: the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Border Security, Crime Management, Counter Terrorism and Criminal Deportation. Today, the States which sign the ATT are openly demonstrating their intention to be bound by an agreement which enhances transparency in the trade in arms. It also establishes norms to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons from the legal to the illicit market. It is this diversion, Mr. President, which is at the heart of the illegal trade in small arms in the Caribbean. It was indeed our Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar who underscored the fact that our weapons of mass destruction are, in reality, the guns and ammunition which end up in the hands of our criminals. Prior to the adoption of the Treaty, there were no legally binding international mechanisms which provided for open and frank dialogue between those countries affected by the flow of arms and the suppliers of these commodities. Trinidad and Tobago is satisfied that the Treaty provides for an Assembly of States Parties where issues relating to the breach of treaty obligations by recalcitrant States can be addressed.”

Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran said that while Trinidad and Tobago is elated to be part of this signing ceremony, we are not oblivious of the fact that, for the ATT to have any meaning, it must not only be signed but also be implemented in the domestic laws of Member States.

“Trinidad and Tobago has begun the process of ratification of the Treaty and expects to be among the first fifty (50) States to permit the ATT to become operational. We are also examining our laws to ensure that they are compatible with the provisions of the agreement. We are satisfied that the ATT has established itself as a major part of the legal architecture and there is a need for the establishment of a Secretariat to assist States Parties with capacity building initiatives and other matters necessary for the full implementation of the obligations which flow from the Instrument. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is convinced that we have the capacity and resources to host the Secretariat and in this regard Trinidad and Tobago declares its interest in formally making a bid to house the Secretariat. We will be embarking on a campaign to secure the support of the global community to ensure that we are successful in this endeavour and we count on the support of all States gathered here today.”

Foreign Minister Dookeran said that clearly this Treaty will assist us in a number of areas such as counter terrorism, the drug trade, money laundering, human trafficking, border security and criminal deportation. He said it is therefore, the expectation that this Treaty will add immeasurably to the regional security architecture throughout CARICOM and beyond.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 4’04″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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