UN arms treaty won’t hit ties with India: France

India abstained at the UNGA on the resolution on the ATT,which was passed by 154 votes,as it felt that the treaty was tilted grossly in favour of arms-exporting countries.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2013 12:25:05 am

France has assured India that the UN Arms Trade Treaty — which was passed by a massive majority of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday night — will not affect the defence relationship between the two countries.

Although the French government voted in favour of the resolution,it has said that India’s concerns are legitimate and has given firm and public support to the Indian position on “contract protection”,sources said. New Delhi has been upset with the US and UK for not accommodating Delhi’s concerns.

India abstained at the UNGA on the resolution on the ATT,which was passed by 154 votes,as it felt that the treaty was tilted grossly in favour of arms-exporting countries. As one of the biggest arms importers,New Delhi felt that it may face the brunt of the treaty if major arms-exporting countries invoke the treaty’s provision of unilateral termination of defence contracts.

Paris,which is a major supplier of arms — and is part of the recent multi-billion dollar deal on Rafale jets — has been quick to assuage concerns on the Indian side. Sources said French interlocutors had worked very closely with Indian officials in New York and Geneva as negotiations were carried out on the text of the treaty. In fact,it was due to close coordination between New Delhi and Paris that the draft text of the treaty — in its final stages — was earlier going to accommodate India’s concerns. Sources said that it was New Zealand that had come up with a compromise formulation in the final stages of negotiations that was acceptable to the India-led arms importers group as well American-led arms exporters group.

However,on March 27,US interlocutors diluted the draft text of the treaty and brought in “unpredictability” and “instability” in the defence contracts. This surprised many,including French and Indian officials,who had worked very hard for the treaty’s text,which would have “balanced obligations”.

France,which had initially told its European partners that the treaty must have a “good balance”,finally went along with the final text as it felt that the text was good,although not perfect.

Along with India,China,Russia,Egypt,Indonesia,Myanmar,Sri Lanka,Saudi Arabia,Qatar,Oman,Cuba abstained in the vote on the resolution. Pakistan,Afghanistan,Bangladesh,Nepal,Maldives and Bhutan voted in favour.

The treaty will be open for signature at the UN Headquarters in New York from June 3,2013 until it is put into force. The treaty is subject to ratification,acceptance or approval by each state that is a signatory and will come into effect as an international law once at least 50 states ratify it.

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