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Guyana inks Global Arms Treaty

Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador, George Talbot signs the Global Arms Treaty.

Guyana Monday morning signed the United Nations Global Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations.

Signing the accord at exactly 11 AM (Guyana Time) was Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador, George Talbot.

The Guyana government has, however, faced a major stumbling block in getting domestic arms control legislation passed because the opposition earlier this year blocked amendments to local laws aimed at tackling trafficking in fire arms and ammunition and supporting. At he core of the opposition’s decision is that Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee is unfit to lead the security sector.

Trinidad and Tobago Foreign Minister, Winston Dookeran announced that his twin-island nation as the headquarters for the Secretariat.

Unlike in the Conference, where all 193 Member States had to agree on the final text, the Assembly needed only a simple majority, or 97 votes, to pass the text. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after ratified by the 50th signatory.

The treaty regulates all conventional arms within the following categories: battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.

According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the treaty will not do any of the following: interfere with domestic arms commerce or the right to bear arms in Member States; ban the export of any type of weapon; harm States’ legitimate right to self-defence; or undermine national arms regulation standards already in place.

The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, welcomed the inclusion in the treaty of a prohibition on the transfer of arms which would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity and certain war crimes and called on States to act quickly to apply this prohibition, pending its entry into force.

“Genocide depends in part on the availability of arms and ammunition,” he said in a statement. “Despite some shortcomings of this treaty, its adoption represents an important step forward in the struggle to prevent genocide and provides a new legal tool to protect those at risk of their lives, and groups threatened with destruction.”

Speaking ahead of the vote, the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremiæ, called the text “groundbreaking,” as well as “robust and actionable.”

He recalled that in 2006, Member States had pledged in the same General Assembly Hall to engage in a multilateral effort to produce a legally binding instrument, establishing common standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms – including warships and battle tanks, combat aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as small arms and light weapons.

“I personally believe that the final text of this conference meets those commitments to a great extent,” Mr. Jeremiæ said, adding that the lack of a regulatory framework for such activities had made a “daunting” contribution to ongoing conflicts, regional instabilities, displacement of peoples, terrorism and transnational organized crime.

The text draws a link with the presence of weapons across the developing world, especially in conflict-affected areas, with the challenge of sustainable development and safeguarding human rights, added Mr. Jeremiæ.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the treaty’s adoption as a crucial step toward protecting children, as it will regulate the transfer of weapons from one country to another.

“The Arms Trade Treaty asks States to explicitly consider the risk that an arms transfer could facilitate serious acts of violence against women and children before allowing it to proceed,” Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection, noted in a news release.

“This is critical given that weapons are now one of the leading causes of death of chil dren and adolescents in many countries, including many that are not experiencing war,” she added.