‘Weapons treaty must include small arms’Posted: 17/05/2012
In July, officials will gather in New York to negotiate the terms of a treaty covering the trade in international arms. Alan Duncan, UK Minister for International Development, today presented the case for the treaty to be as robust as possible. He said that while it was recognised compromises might be needed in order to obtain agreement, the UK was going for ‘the full laundry list’.
Duncan told the IISS in London that the uncontrolled flow of weapons across borders caused millions of deaths in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Darfur region of Sudan. Imported small arms and light weapons accounted for the vast majority of deaths in such conflicts. Conflict, in turn, prevented development, because health systems and education could not flourish against the background of armed violence. Yet some countries had no arms trade regulations at all, and there were no common international standards.
The United Kingdom would argue for the treaty to be broad in scope, covering everything from fighter jets to ammunition. While some countries opposed the inclusion of small arms, Duncan said that ‘leaving them out would be an act of negligence’. The treaty needed to mandate detailed national reports of arms exports. It should also address the issue of corruption, by establishing a register of brokers; and it should seek to ensure that arms sales would not damage human rights and would meet criteria for sustainable development. Agreement would represent a quantum leap from the present state of affairs, he said.