Thursday, 5 July 2012

Arms Trade Treaty - the horse trading begins

The United Nations is bringing member states together to try to hammer out a treaty that will regulate the business of buying and selling weapons.

At first glance, the time period allocated [2-27 July] seems quite lengthy. Then opswarfare begins to understand why...

Negotiations have already been sidelined with a dispute over the admittance of Palestine. While it is a valid issue, it is more likely a distraction created by those who want the process to fail.

By the way, Singapore's views below (source)
[11 April 2012] 
1. Singapore supports the work of the United Nations towards establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms through an arms trade treaty. In this regard, Singapore welcomes the progress made to date, from the Open-ended Working Group to the Preparatory Committee, and looks forward to participating fully in the negotiations at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to be held in July 2012. 
2. Singapore believes that an arms trade treaty should seek to address the threat posed to international peace and security by the illicit trade in conventional arms. Singapore also agrees with many delegations that have consistently affirmed that an important criterion is the respect for the relevant principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations; for instance, that of the inherent right of all States to self-defence in accordance with Article 51. In this regard, Singapore, together with other delegations, reaffirms States’ rights to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence purposes and for participation in peace-support operations. 
3. To effectively address the threat posed to international peace and security by the illicit trade in conventional arms, it is important that an arms trade treaty be universal, focused, practical and implementable. To ensure that the treaty is universally accepted, Singapore believes it is important that the views of all States be heard and taken into account, in addition to the differing capacities and resources of States that will, in turn, determine their capability to fully implement the provisions of an arms trade treaty. In this regard, Singapore hopes that the scope of an arms trade treaty will take into account the views of all Member States, in particular the smaller States, on issues such as practicality and capacity to implement the terms of the treaty. Singapore also hopes that the criteria of an arms trade treaty will be clear and objective, in order for the treaty to be practical, implementable and thus effective. 
4. In addition, an arms trade treaty should not undermine the primary responsibility of States in controlling exports, imports and transfers of conventional arms. States should be able to decide for themselves how to implement their respective national export control systems, based on individual States’ international obligations and specific requirements. States should also be encouraged to exchange only relevant information that would aid in the curbing of illicit arms trade, through appropriate channels and on a voluntary basis, and within the ambit of domestic laws. Lastly, an arms trade treaty should be about ways in which States can apply their existing international obligations and not about creating new obligations over and above what States have individually committed to. 
5. Singapore is prepared to participate fully in the conference to be held in July 2012, and to contribute to developing an arms trade treaty that is well balanced, non-discriminatory and universally accepted.
My quick summary of the above
  1. Singapore will participate in the negotiations
  2. Reaffirm the right to make, buy, and sell weapons for self-defence and peace-keeping operations
  3. Treaty should cater for different capacities of different states
  4. Singapore against new obligations; any information exchange should be voluntary
  5. repeat of 1st point

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