St. Lucia joined Argentina, the Bahamas, Portugal, Czech Republic, Senegal and Uruguay in ratifying the Global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) of the United Nations (UN) today, Thursday, September 25.
This has moved the total number of countries to have ratified the treaty to 52.
St. Lucia and the Bahamas have now joined six other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states: Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada to ratify the ATT.
These countries have shown political leadership and strength in ensuring the treaty will enter into force on December 24, 2014 – only 18 months since it first opened for signature in June 2013.
Fifty countries were required to ratify the ATT before the 90-day countdown to entry into force could begin.
Ambassador and permanent representative of Saint Lucia to the UN Menissa Rambally had stated that “the treaty is a major step in building a defense against the weak, non-existent global regulations that facilitate the free flow of arms and ammunition into the hands of local criminals.”
The treaty is aimed at regulating the $85 billion industry, and provides protection for the millions of people whose lives are devastated by the poorly regulated global arms trade.
U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane told an ATT event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that Bosnia and Herzegovina was due to also deposit its ratification later today.
In delivering remarks on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kane said, “The need for the ATT remains abundantly clear. Deadly weaponry continues to find its way into irresponsible hands.”
She was quoted by Reuters saying, “Ammunition depots are poorly guarded. State-owned weapons go missing. Civilian airplanes end up in the crosshairs. Just as with other commodities, the trade in arms should comply with vigorous, internationally agreed standards. All actors involved in the arms trade must be held accountable.”
The ATT aims to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons, ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters.
It would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law or organised crime.
On April 2, 2013, a total of 155 states voted in the UN General Assembly to adopt the ATT and 119 states have since signed the treaty, indicating their willingness to bring it into their national law.
External Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste is currently attending the UN General assembly meeting.
St. Lucia has participated actively at the UN for over seven years, negotiating the text of the treaty in the lead-up to its opening for signature.