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Australia to lead push for global Arms Trade Treaty

July 2, 2012

Australia will today take a leading role in negotiating a global Arms Trade Treaty — imposing new controls on illicit cross-border dealings in weapons including automatic rifles, hand guns, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition.

Speaking from New York, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he would seek support in the United Nations for a Treaty to require countries to track and report on major arms transfers and sales, leading to greater enforcement of UN arms embargos and sanctions regimes.

Senator Carr said he would outline Australia’s position in a national statement to the UN on Tuesday July 2.

“Australia’s message is that it’s time for action on global arms control,” Senator Carr said.

“We’re seeking a comprehensive agreement on arms control — enforceable through public reporting to the UN — and aimed at reducing the continued flow of conventional weapons to rogue groups and terrorists.

“Each day there are around 2,000 deaths in conflicts fuelled by illegally traded arms. Yet as Amnesty International points out, global trade in some foods is more strictly regulated than trade in weapons.

“Momentum is building for action on an arms trade treaty. Countries heavily affected by illegal weapons trades — in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean — are looking to Australia and others for leadership.

“We’ll be taking up that challenge with this national address to the UN — pushing for a unified international response, and for a crackdown on illegal arms sales around the world.”

Senator Carr said Australia would also provide $1 million to initiate a multilateral assistance fund to help developing countries implement the Treaty.

The funds would support measures such as national legislation, setting up export control agencies and building expertise in assessing and enforcing arms controls.

There are an estimated 875 million small arms in circulation worldwide. Illicit arms trading in conventional weaponry is estimated at around $1 billion per year.

Click here to read my op-ed “Mobilising against the illicit arms trade”, published in The Sydney Morning Herald today.

One Comment
  1. July 3, 2012 8:44 am

    This is one of the most important prevention tools that all states can take responsibility for – ending the trade in small arms. As FM Carr correctly points out, we have excellent support in our region for this initiative. ASEAN states have a strong record of commitment to the United Nations Programme of Action, the International Tracing Instrument and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Bellamy and Davies (2009), in their Security Dialogue paper, noted that this was one crucial area where the responsibility to protect principle connects with an area of great interest to ASEAN states – prevention of small arms trade – and assists in overcoming the (false) notion that Friends of R2P are only concerned with pillar three. We sincerely congratulate FM Carr and his team on their proactive engagement in this area and sincerely look forward to seeing the Arms Trade Treaty become a reality.

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