Statement by His Excellency Rudolph Michael Ten-Pow, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) during theThematic Debate of the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee) on Conventional Weapons
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the fourteen Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Crime and insecurity rank high among the threats and obstacles to social and economic development in the Caribbean. In this context, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons poses significant security challenges for our region. We do not manufacture, export or re-export these weapons nor ammunition, neither do we import them on a large scale but the extent of their impact in the region remains a source of major concern.
Certain realities in our region, such as our porous borders; our limited capacity to detect, intercept and seize illegal arms at ports of entry; and unfavourable socio-economic conditions in some parts of our countries make it particularly challenging to stem the illicit arms trade, which operates in tandem with the illicit drug trade and other organized criminal activities. The convergence of these factors has a destabilizing effect on our societies and undermines our economies.
It is for these and other reasons that CARICOM remains a strong advocate for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty as the framework for regulating the international trade in conventional weapons and for preventing and eradicating their illicit trade as well as for preventing their diversion. We are pleased with the progress made since the Treaty’s entry into force in 2014 and welcome the decision of the Third Conference of States Parties to establish the Working Group on Treaty Universalization as a standing Working Group. CARICOM supports the initial work plan of the Group. We are convinced that eradication of the illicit trade in conventional arms would be possible only if the international community works as a collective bound by the common obligations set out in the Treaty.
CARICOM was pleased to see the inclusion of a special thematic debate at CSP 3 with a timely focus on the links between the ATT and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We note that while Target 16.4 of the Goals explicitly speaks to reducing illicit arms flow, there are also linkages between the gender-based provisions of the ATT and Target 5.2 which speaks to eliminating violence against women and girls. Going forward, the region believes that greater value could be derived from these focused debates if Member States aim to generate as many practical measures as possible to inform our work under the Treaty.
CARICOM shares the view that implementation of the ATT is a “long term endeavor”. We are fully committed to the process and will support all initiatives to this end. We also wish to underscore the need for continued assistance and support to developing countries, in particular, to facilitate full implementation of the Treaty.
As we approach the convening of the Third Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2018, CARICOM intends to remain fully engaged on the issues identified for focus during the Conference and to participate actively in the deliberations. We look forward to the Conference building on the consensus outcome document adopted by the Sixth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action.
The region wishes to acknowledge its ongoing partnership with the United Nations through the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean the Regional Centre – a partnership that is aligned with the CARICOM Strategic Plan and which has resulted in many concrete achievements in keeping with our obligations under the UN’s disarmament agenda. Measurable outcomes from this partnership include improved security in over 120 stockpile facilities across the region; the destruction of more than 54,000 weapons and 67 tonnes of ammunition; increased capacity of almost 800 security sector personnel in destruction techniques, stockpile and armoury management and port security; as well as the development of various CARICOM small arms and light weapons strategies resulting from direct collaboration between UNLIREC and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). We look forward to continued and enhanced cooperation with the UN as we strengthen our capacity to fulfill the disarmament objectives.
I conclude with a special call to States that manufacture and export conventional arms. These States have a special responsibility to work with the rest of us in ensuring that adequate controls are in place to safeguard against the diversion of these arms from legitimate uses to illicit markets. We have to work together to completely remove these weapons from the wrong hands as this is the fuel for so many conflicts around the world – conflicts in which thousands of lives are lost and many more injured and maimed. CARICOM is committed to doing its part and will work with all partners to this end.
I thank you.