MRS. ANGELLA HAMILTON BROWN
CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRS, A.I.
PERMANENT MISSION OF JAMAICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
BEHALF OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)
AT THE Open-ended Working Group Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the
Import, export and transfer of conventional arms
New York, 15TH JULY 2009
Speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), I consider it my first duty today to assure you of the feelings of satisfaction and confidence with which we see you continuing to guide this very important exercise in which this Open-Ended Working Group is engaged. Your proven diplomatic skills encourage us to look forward to a successful outcome of our efforts.
Since this is the only address which our States will be making as a grouping in the course of the present series of meetings, I intend to deal with all of the issues on the agenda.
Mr. Chairman, the co-sponsorship by CARICOM States of General Assembly Resolution 63/240 of January 8th 2009, demonstrated our continuing attachment to, and support for, the work of this Open-Ended Working Group, which hopefully will lead to agreement on the conclusion of a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.
We are all in agreement that the question of the Arms Trade Treaty is a complex one. But CARICOM States do not see complexity as a reason to lower our sights. The representative of Indonesia wisely reminded this Group two days ago that, as in other arms control and disarmament measures, where there is political will among States, there will always be a way to achieve the intended result.
CARICOM States have a peculiar perspective where the consideration of a possible Arms Trade Treaty is concerned. For our part, we are fourteen territories whose combined population amount to fourteen million, including Haiti’s eight million. All CARICOM Member States have extensive coastlines and territorial waters to control, however our relatively modest human and financial resources do not enable us to deploy adequate levels of control over our vast borders. Our States comprise different races and religions, but we all enjoy stable harmonious relations with each other. We have no issues with any extra-regional state which cause us to see a reliance on arms as offering us solutions. On the contrary, we are fully committed to the principle of multilateralism, settlement of disputes by peaceful means and the primacy of international law. We do not manufacture arms; we do not import them in any significant quantities, nor do we re-export what we import. But our history and geography have combined to make us a proving-ground for what can befall States when the movement of arms is not closely controlled on the basis of a common set of international standards.
CARICOM States are situated at a major trans-shipment point between the world’s principal source of cocaine and its primary consumer market. A point where the illicit trade in guns converges with the illicit movement of narcotic drugs, each one feeding and reinforcing the other, as part of a network of transnational organized crime, with significant consequences for our societies in terms of insecurity, fear, loss of life and hampering of the development effort. At the conclusion of their Thirteenth Special Meeting held in Port-of-Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, dedicated to all aspects of crime and violence in the region, our Heads of Government described the situation relating to illegal firearms as the most visible and dramatic dimension of the crime situation in the region. Mr. Chairman, when international arms transfers produce consequences such as these, something is seriously wrong; and it is time to begin doing things differently.
For these reasons, CARICOM States welcomed the Assembly’s decision to start the important work which we are here continuing. We are in full support of the conclusion of a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty. In our vision, there is no question of such an instrument in any way compromising the enjoyment by any State of its right to acquire arms for its legitimate self-defence or to engage in licit trade in arms. Rather, we seek an instrument that would make a difference in terms of plugging the loopholes that currently exist in the transfer of international arms. It should be one which will hold States accountable for the kinds of transfers that they make, or receive. It should require that these transfers will be based on, and will respect, international principles to which all States are committed by virtue of their subscription to the Charter of the United Nations – principles such as respect for Human Rights, respect for International Humanitarian Law, the right to sustainable development, among others.
Mr. Chairman, our States note with appreciation the efforts which the States of various regions have been making over the years to regulate the transfer of arms. In our own region, Latin America and the Caribbean, such initiatives include the inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Materials, the OAS Model Regulation for the Control of the International Movement of Firearms their Parts, Components and Ammunition.
We reiterate, Mr. Chairman, that in an interdependent world where the illicit trade in arms pays no respect to national or regional boundaries, it is essential that efforts being undertaken in various regions be buttressed by a multilateral approach, centered within the context of the United Nations, and based on internationally recognized principles.
In this regard, CARICOM States are now focused on the necessity to establish a legally binding ATT that is based on principles that represent the interests of Member States, but which are also not restricted by their perspectives as either principal exporters or principal exporters of arms, among which smaller states such as ours are not included. Equally important, an effective ATT must include principles that give effect to the pursuit of Goals and Objectives that directly engage the adverse and multidimensional impacts of arms trade and national security. The sources of these criminal and destructive impacts lie hidden from reach in the gaps and loopholes that currently persist among other existing arms control instruments.
Mr. Chairman, it is therefore in the context of the imperative for this Working Group to focus on ensuring that a potential ATT delivers direct value for promoting the safety and security of our citizens and the protection and preservation of their rights as human beings, that CARICOM States welcome and are encouraged by the obvious consensus that has been expressed by all Member States during the past three days for the inclusion of the Goal of the “Prevention of Diversion to the Illicit Market” as an element in an eventual legally binding treaty, in accordance with the mandate assigned to this Open-Ended Working Group in Operative Paragraph 5 of Resolution 63/240.
With regard to the types of weapons which should be included in the coverage of an Arms Trade Treaty, there is little need for us to dwell on the limitations of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, in relation to the situation now facing our States, where we are confronting a wider range of weapons and of technology than is contained in the Register. The scope of an ATT clearly needs to go beyond UNRCA to cover all arms, arms production equipment and related technology.
Mr. Chairman, We expect that in the interest of transparency, the ATT will contain a requirement for regular and systematic reporting by States on their compliance with its terms, and that there will also be a mechanism for monitoring and verifying such compliance, along with appropriate dispute settlement procedures. Also, Mr. Chairman, there is a whole range of areas in respect of which appropriate assistance to States could make a significant difference in terms of their giving effectiveness to the Treaty. We therefore expect that an ATT would make provision for appropriate assistance to States not only with their compliance with requirements such as reporting etc, but also in terms of their putting in place mechanisms which would help them protect against the illegal entry of arms and maintain the integrity of weapons storage systems, for example.
Of course, while we work toward the conclusion of an Arms Trade Treaty, we shall continue our efforts within the Caribbean and at the wider Latin American and Caribbean region to try to protect ourselves against the nefarious effects of the diversion of arms and other abuses of illegal arms. In this regard, at their recently concluded Summit held in Georgetown, Guyana, from July 2nd to 4th, 2009, CARICOM Heads of Government paid special attention to the Crime and Security aspect of their Agenda. In terms of our external cooperation arrangements, the Heads also had a productive and useful exchange of views in the context of international cooperation with several manufacturing and exporting Member States, including the United States based on the recent establishment of E-Tracing MOUs with CARICOM Member States.
Mr. Chairman, in concluding, I reiterate the unwavering commitment of CARICOM States to bringing the arms trade under effective control in accordance with common, accepted international standards.
I thank you.