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Friday, June 29, 2012

Arms Trade Treaty to End Insurgency

New York will next month host a first of the kind conference on a potential multilateral treaty dubbed Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which seeks to place regulations on the way conventional weapons are transfer from manufacturers to end-users around the world. The unregulated arms transfers between various borders have been regarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as one factor that fuel insurgencies around the world. At least a ten-man delegation is expected to represent Liberia at the conference which starts on July 2-27, 2012 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA. Prior to the conference that could bring hope of lasting peace to conflict regions in the world the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday held a one day briefing on the conference with media executive. During the briefing held at the National Museum of Liberia, Ambassador Conmany B. Wesseh, Chairman of LiNCSA, give background of how the treaty came to the attention of the United Nations. He said the document was put forward in 2003 by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates who had vested interest in the peace and security of the people of the world was first addressed in the UN assembly in December 2006 when resolution 61/89 was adopted. According to Chairman Wesseh, the ATT would ensure that no arms transfer is permitted to a region if there is a substantial risk that could destabilize that region. Also speaking at the briefing, Mr. S. Sando Wayne, Deputy Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Integration said the conference is more like a “rich against poor” because the treaty tends to hamper the livelihood of arms manufacturers. Minister Wayne said that the ATT is not intended to stop the manufacturing of weapons but rather to make the arms trade a legal one in which arms transfers can be checked from the manufacturer to a country which would procure military, security and police arms. He said that some countries have been involve in giving other countries weapons as gift, such transfer are also to be tracked by the ATT to ensure that such weapons are not use to cause terror in other parts of the world. Minister Wayne said that Liberia along with several other African countries at the last African Union (AU) conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, came up with a position that they would present to the UN in support of the ATT. Asked what argument the Liberian delegation would present to powerful countries involve in manufacturing and selling arms, minister Wayne said that the delegation would tell those countries to prefer investing in ‘Liberia’s abundant natural resources” other than arms that would take away the lives of innocent people. Speaking on behave of the Civil Society of Liberia, Mr. J. Kofa Torbor, Executive Director of Liberians United to Expose Hidden Weapons (LUEHW) said Liberians know all too well the dire consequences of the irresponsible and poorly regulated trade in arms. He recounted the 14 years civil conflict that plagued the country leaving about 500,000 people killed and a million more displaced internally and externally. Mr. Torbor said in the absence of the ATT, unregulated arms trade will continue to fuel conflicts that results into gross human rights abuses, violation of international humanitarian law, destabilization of countries and region thereby undermining sustainable development. The LUEHW Executive Director used the occasion to present to the Government of Liberia a global petition under the theme No More Arms for Atrocities- Time for a Bullet Proof Arms Trade Treaty. The petition called on the government of Liberia and other governments the world over to agree to the ATT at the conference in New York because same will protect human rights, lives and livelihood. The petition: “The world needs a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will prevent arms transfer if they are likely to contribute directly to serious human rights abuses, war crimes or poverty. The treaty must cover all conventional arms including ammunition. We call on the Liberian Government and every other government to secure the ATT that effectively prevents arms from fuelling such atrocities and abuses.”

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