JAMAICA TO THE OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP TOWARDS AN ARMS TRADE TREATY: ESTABLISHING COMMON INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR THE IMPORT, EXPORT AND TRANSFER OF CONVENTIONAL ARMS
4th MARCH 2009
Please allow me to express our congratulations to you on your election to the post as chairman of the Working Group. Our congratulations are also extended to the other members of the bureau as well. You are assured of Jamaica’s full support and cooperation during the period of our deliberations. As you have demonstrated so far, I am confident that your capable leadership will enable satisfactory recommendations and conclusions from the Open-ended Working Group.
Jamaica is deeply concerned about the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The unrestrained access to and widespread misuse of these illegal weapons and ammunitions pose severe humanitarian and socio economic challenges to Jamaica and as a consequence, we attach serious importance to the development of a comprehensive legally binding instrument that will establish common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.
Jamaica was among the overwhelming majority of Member States supporting General Assembly Resolutions 61/89 and 63/240; and it should be noted that response to these resolutions is proof that the international community is ready and willing to embrace an international legally binding instrument to regulate the illicit trade in conventional arms.
It has been noted that issues related to the regulation and control of arms transfer have always been on the agenda of the United Nations. For example, Articles 11 and 26 of the Charter make specific reference to the regulation of peace and security. In this context therefore, we believe that the goals and objectives of an arms treaty should be in keeping with the overall principles of the Charter.
Despite reluctance or hesitation on the part of some States to support a limitation on arms transfers, this measure is a necessary corollary to curbing the easy access to the Small Arms and Light Weapons, a measure that has expression in decisions and embargoes adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter; and General Assembly Resolutions, including the 1991Resolution 47, urging Member States to exercise effective control over their weapons and military equipment and their arms imports and exports and called on them to ensure that laws, regulations and administrative procedures are put in place to effectively regulate and monitor the transfer of arms to prevent the diversion of arms to unauthorized persons or destinations.
Additionally, it may be recalled Mr. Chairman, that the 1996 UN Guidelines for International Arms Transfers was adopted by General Assembly Resolution 51/47 and called on States to establish and maintain an effective system of export and import licenses for international arms transfers. The 2001 UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, States undertook “to establish and maintain an effective national system of export and import licensing or authorization, as well measures on international transit, for the transfer of all small arms and light weapons, with a view to eradicating the Illicit trade in small arms and light weapons”. Similar provisions are contained in the UN Fire Arms Protocol.
Moreover, Mr. Chairman,
The precedence exists at the national, regional and sub-regional levels that give credence to the feasibility of an arms treaty. Many States have put in place guidelines for arms import and export, in keeping with national and international policies and commitments.
The Jamaican delegation is convinced that the scope of an arms trade treaty should include, but not exhaustive of, the following:
· the export, import, re-export, transfer, transit and trans-shipment of arms;
· all forms of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, as well as the technology the technology to manufacture such equipment;
· parts, components and ammunition which constitute an integral part of the arms trade;
· arms brokering activities, given the critical role of arms brokers in international arms transactions;
· end-user controls and end use monitoring to reduce the risk of the legal trade becoming part of the illicit trade in arms; and an
· enforcement and monitoring mechanism.
Notwithstanding the preceeding Mr. Chairman,
Jamaica adheres to the position that the principles and parameters of an arms trade treaty must be guided by the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, including, inter alia, the right of States to self defense in accordance with article 51; the sovereign equality of States; non-interference in the internal affairs of States; respect for territorial integrity and political independence; the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and respect for human rights; the Principles enshrined in the Geneva Conventions on Humanitarian Law and other sources of customary international law and existing regional and sub-regional legal apparatus formulated to govern the transfer of arms.
Additionally, the parameters should allow for the right of all States to import, export, transfer and manufacture arms and to acquire arms for legitimate national security needs or participate in internationally mandated peacekeeping operations. It should also stipulate the responsibility and obligation of States to ensure that legal arms transfers are not diverted into the illicit trade. The issue of the transfer of arms to non-State actors, particularly in the context where they can be used to perpetrate violence or organized crime, terrorism or armed conflict, should also be addressed within the parameter of an Arms Trade Treaty; so too should a clear indication of the purpose, aim and intent of the transfer, conform to specific standards to which States should be bound in any transaction relating to the transfer of arms.
Our struggle against the illicit trade in conventional arms is not inseparable from ammunitions, a vital element in the arms trade which needs our undivided attention, as well.
I thank you.