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The Global Arms Trade Treaty Come into Force
Dec 29, 2014

A landmark treaty regulating the 85 billion dollar global arms trade came into force on December 24. It will help prevent transfer of weapons to terrorists and human rights abusers and asked major arms exporters and importers to join the pact.

The Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly in April last year, is the first legally-binding multilateral agreement that prohibit nations from exporting conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons would be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.As of December 23, 60 nations had ratified the treaty and 130 had signed it, indicating that they intended to ratify. India was among the 23 nations that had abstained from voting on the treaty resolution last year, saying the draft treaty annexed to the resolution is weak on terrorism and non-state actors and these concerns find no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty.

UN Secretary-General Ban-ki-Moon said the treaty coming into force less than two years after it was adopted by the General Assembly attests to our collective determination to reduce human suffering by preventing the transfer or diversion of weapons to areas afflicted by armed conflict and violence and to warlords, human rights abusers, terrorists and criminal organisations. He encouraged all nations, particularly major arms exporters and importers, to join the treaty.

Major weapons producers and importers like Russia, China, India and Pakistan have not signed the treaty. Top arms exporter countries that have signed and ratified it include Britain, France and Germany. The US, the world’s top arms exporter, signed the treaty in September 2013 but the Senate has not ratified it.

From now on, the States Parties to this important treaty will have a legal obligation to apply the highest common standards to their international transfers of weapons and ammunition. This treaty is a breakthrough in curbing human rights violations and reducing human suffering. The lax regulations covering the trade in conventional weapons and the consequent widespread availability and misuse of arms have had a huge human cost. The unregulated arms trade is one of the main drivers of armed conflict and violence, contributing and facilitating the commission of human rights and humanitarian law violations.

Following the adoption of the treaty last year, India maintained that such a treaty should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illicit use especially by terrorists and other unauthorized and unlawful non-State actors. India has also stressed consistently that the ATT should ensure a balance of obligations between exporting and importing states. India cannot accept that the treaty be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states parties without consequences. The relevant provisions in the final text do not meet our requirements.

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