Saturday 18 July 2015

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) | India's stand

Why in news?
  • ATT, regulating the international trade in "conventional" arms - from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships - entered into force on 24 December 2014.
  • 69 states have ratified the treaty, and a further 61 states (including USA) have signed but not ratified it.

Why do we need an international Arms Trade Treaty?

  • Global trade in weapons is massive and poorly regulated. 
    • Secrecy in trade details even though the value of international transfers of conventional arms is estimated to be approaching US$100 billion annually
  • >12 Bn bullets manufactured each year 
  • ~ 60% of the HR violations involve use of small arms and ammunitions
  • It is estimated that roughly half a million people are killed every year with firearms; in the battlefield as a result of state repression and by criminal gangs.
  • And for every person who is killed in conflict and armed violence, we have to consider the many more who are injured and tortured, abused, forcibly disappeared, taken hostage or otherwise denied their human rights down the barrel of a gun.
  • Developmental costs - poverty, unemployment, etc.
Arm's Trade Treaty
  • The treaty is a legally binding agreement between nations that would prevent the irresponsible sale of weapons across borders. It would keep those weapons out of the hands of war criminals and those fueling conflict and poverty.
  • It is to regulate international sale of weapons which reaches the terrorists, insurgents, and human right abusers
    • illicit trade of conventional firearms, tanks, artillery, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and ammunitions.
Source: Oxfam

    • Aims to prevent diversion of arms for crimes and genocides.
    • Obligations is put on both importing and exporting countries (member states):
      • Importers: provide details to exporters about future usage of arms purchased, and assure them that they will comply with the ATT.
      • Exporters: don't transfer arms, if they fear possible usage in genocides or crimes against humanity,etc.
        • There is a mechanism for sharing such information 
    • The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs claimed the treaty would NOT
      • interfere with domestic arms commerce or 
      • the right to bear arms in its member states; 
      • ban the export of any type of weapon; 
      • harm the legitimate right to self-defence; or 
      • undermine national arms regulation standards already in place
    Have the world’s major arms exporters adopted the treaty in their law? 
    Five of the top 10 arms exporters – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have already ratified the ATT.  While the USA and Israel have yet to ratify, they have both signed the treaty. There has been resistance to ratification from other major arms producers like China, Canada and Russia.
    Why hasn't US ratified it? Opposition from senate + Lobbying by big Arms manufacturers who make money by exporting to all the countries, without such restrictions.

    India's stand:
    We want to be sure about few things:
    • It should be a Consensus based realistic treaty
    • It must reduce trafficking and diversion of arms to terrorists and non-state actors
      • ATT doesn't recognise non-state actors as the likely recipient of illicit arms - Pakistan, Libya
    • It should ensure a balance between importing and exporting states obligations
      • Currently - it puts more obligation on importers (Being a top arms importer, we will obviously oppose it!)
      • An instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral forceful action against importing state parties - without consequences. It's open to misuse by exporting countries, as they can stop supply, citing poor compliance, etc.
    • It should have an International mechanism for verification - like IAEA and OPCW
    • It should cover drones and grenades, explicitly.
    • It should be more inclusive and balanced

    So, we abstained from voting at the UNGA in April 2013, along with Russia, China and 20 other countries.


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