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Statement by Ambassador Henry L. Mac Donald on behalf of CARICOM Member States at the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty United Nations Headquarters 12-23 July, 2010
26 July 2010 / 10:45

Statement by Ambassador Henry L. Mac Donald on behalf of CARICOM Member States at the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

United Nations Headquarters

12-23 July, 2010

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the fourteen Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

At the outset, I wish to join with other delegations in congratulating you on your assumption to the Chair of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.

We are confident that your expertise will serve us well in ensuring that our discussions on this critical issue are meaningful and productive. It is, therefore Mr. Chairman, with a great deal of enthusiasm, and a high level of expectation, that CARICOM enters into these discussions.

Mr. Chairperson,
CARICOM Member States have been among the earliest advocates which called for an international agreement to be negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations to regulate the trade in small arms and light weapons. Consequently, we are satisfied with the advancement of the process so far for the development of a comprehensive, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (“ATT”).

CARICOM States supported the adoption of resolution A/64/48 which called for the convening of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (UNCATT) in 2012. For us, the attainment of a comprehensive and legally binding instrument, which establishes common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, is of tremendous importance to the region.

Many of our States are used as transhipment and refuelling points for the illicit arms and narcotics trade despite our best efforts to secure our borders.

The absence of an international legally binding treaty to regulate the trade in small arms has enabled the growth of the illegal trade in these weapons. This illicit trade has contributed to a growing culture of violence in our region. This point was emphasised in the 2007 joint World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report entitled, “Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends, Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean”.

In that report it was noted that, and I quote, "the high rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are undermining growth, threatening human welfare, and impeding social development" (end quote).

The report also indicated that the surge in gun related criminality is attributable to the increase in the trafficking of narcotics.
Mr. Chairman, mindful of your desire to keep discussions focused I will now outline some preliminary elements that CARICOM has identified as indispensable for inclusion in the scope of a strong, robust legally binding and comprehensive ATT:

I. The treaty should seek to rationalise varying standards for arms sales arrangements by establishing one set of uniform standards and reinforcing best practices contained in existing arrangements.

II. Conscious of the need to be comprehensive in scope, the treaty should make provision for all categories of weapons which are capable of being used in ways that can result in violations of the United Nations Charter, or, International Humanitarian Law. In this regard, the treaty should proceed from an already internationally accepted listing such as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, but should also address the issue of ammunition and should also include a provision allowing States to bring additional weapons within its ambit, as the need arises due to technological advancements, or, as States see fit.

III. The treaty should seek to regulate the re-export and diversion of weapons; as such, the issues of storage, end use certification, brokering and the disposal of weapons should also be addressed.

IV. In order to ensure that the Treaty is robust in nature, it should contain provisions establishing a dedicated secretariat to assist States Parties with the implementation of their obligations which flow from the instrument.

V. A dispute settlement regime for the purpose of addressing differences concerning the interpretation or application of the provisions of the treaty would also be useful. This should also include mechanisms such as conciliation and mediation.

VI. CARICOM supports the need for the Treaty to contain provisions for the regular, periodic exchange of information between, States, whether importers or exporters and the United Nations through defined reporting obligations. However, these provisions should take into consideration the often times burdensome nature of such reporting requirements on developing States.

VII. The Treaty should establish clear penalties for non-compliance.

VIII. The Treaty should contain provisions on international cooperation and assistance, particularly as it relates to capacity- building and the transfer of technology to strengthen the national capacities of developing States to effectively implement the treaty.

Mr. Chairman, CARICOM is of the view that these elements must be inter-linked with various principles to be elaborated during the course of the meeting of this Preparatory Committee to form the basis of the Arms Trade Treaty.

CARICOM remains firm in its belief that the United Nations is the best forum to agree upon a strong, robust and legally binding ATT, and therefore calls upon all States to work together in a spirit of cooperation and compromise so that we can achieve our objective.

I thank you.