Bahrain urged to sign global arms trade treaty
Manama, June 15, 2013
Bahrain has been urged to sign a landmark United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that aims to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of warlords and pirates.
More than 70 countries, including the UK, France and Germany, have agreed to be part of the new pact, created by the UN General Assembly, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
It requires countries that ratify the treaty to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and components and to regulate arms brokers.
Significantly, it prohibits the transfer of conventional weapons if they violate arms embargoes or if they promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes and if they could be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.
However, the treaty does not control the use of domestic weapons.
"In my opinion, Bahrain should sign the treaty," said Shura Council foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.
"The ATT is meant to prohibit the sale of arms in the black market. It has nothing to do with special or existing treaties between governments to buy arms and weapons according to other treaties.
"Bahrain won't be affected by such a treaty because we have legal agreements with allies for provisions of arms and weapons. Therefore, I believe there is no harm for Bahrain in joining it," he noted.
"The treaty will limit provision of arms to terrorists and illegal organisations, which will limit their activities."
Key arms exporters, including Russia and China, as well as major importers including India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Egypt all abstained in the UN General Assembly vote and have not given indication that they will sign it.
But US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that America, the world's largest arms dealer, will sign the treaty.
Dr Shaikh Khalid emphasised limiting the exchange of weapons on the black market would be beneficial for countries around the world.
"The treaty will also limit civil wars throughout the world, as they are fought with weapons bought on the black market," he said. "This would alleviate suffering in countries in Africa that have had civil wars for several decades," he stated.
"Hence, the treaty will encourage countries to co-operate against black market sales. We expect most of our allied countries to back the treaty," he said.
"We have to tighten the links with our allies and friends to exchange information and prevent sales of illegal arms."
National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) deputy president Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi also emphasised the importance of Bahrain signing the treaty.
"It's good for Bahrain to join such treaties because they increase control of arms and weapons," he told the GDN.
"What's happening at the moment is that people around the world are getting weapons from the black market," he pointed out.
"This treaty won't stop that completely, but it is good for Bahrain to join the international community to try and regulate it. It would result in more control over lethal weapons. Treaties like this will stop countries using chemical weapons as well," he added.-TradeArabia News Service
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