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India: Will support Arms Trade Treaty if adopted by consensus

The purpose of the treaty is to target illicit trade of arms,but the implementation is going to be by individual countries.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
July 20, 2012 3:18:12 am

As discussions on the Arms Trade Treaty gather momentum in Geneva,India has made it clear that it would only support a treaty that is adopted by consensus,not majority,and one which targets terror groups and organised crime.

The purpose of the treaty is to target illicit trade of arms,but the implementation is going to be by individual countries. In other words,sources said,there is less likelihood of a consensus on creating an overarching international body,as demanded by certain NGOs,to oversee such trade.

The concept of such a treaty,which traces its origins to a group of European countries,has found favour with the Obama Administration,resulting in a more concerted political push over the past couple of years at the United Nations. The on-going meeting of the Conference of Disarmament (CD) at Geneva is mandated by the UN for the first time to come up with an agreed text of the treaty before it concludes its plenary next week.

While other elements of the treaty are under discussion,insiders said,India’s main purpose is to ensure a regime that will dovetail with the various resolutions on terrorism and not impede legitimate trade by way of subjective criteria like social situation,poverty or human suffering. New Delhi is working to ensure that the criteria remain objective.

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Currently,sources explained that there are sufficient safeguards and controls when it comes to weapons of mass destruction but it is not the same with conventional weapons,especially small arms. New Delhi,for this reason,has like most countries favoured eight categories to be brought under the scope of this treaty. These are battle tanks,armoured combat vehicles,combat aircraft,attack helicopters,naval warships,missiles,missile launchers,small arms and light weapons.

Some of the European countries are keen to in include munitions to the list but the US opposed this,as it would be difficult to monitor munitions trade.

China,interestingly,has withheld consent on including small arms and light weapons into the agreement’s scope,saying it would rather wait for the final document of the treaty to take shape. Pakistan has taken an extreme position saying none of the categories except small arms and light weapons were acceptable to it.

On July 10,India’s Permanent Representative to the CD at Geneva Sujata Mehta,made a statement on the ATT that underlined the need for recognising importer’s obligations too. “It is important that the proposed treaty strike a balance in the obligations of exporters and importers,without unduly hampering legitimate trade in conventional arms.”

She amplified India’s understanding of the objectives of the ATT.

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