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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Trade of arms: Arms trade treaty

Avoiding the Armageddon


Can the UN-sponsored Arms Trade Treaty check illegal gun running?
AMIR HOSSAIN | Issue Dated: April 28, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Illegal arms | Arms smuggling |

The illegal trade of arms internationally, and the impunity with which gun-running has proliferated in many parts of the world, poses a serious threat to global peace and harmony. It is estimated that around half a million people lose their lives annually due to armed violence. International bodies have lamented this deplorable state of affairs, decrying the fact that there are “more international laws regulating the trade of bananas than weapons!” Under such circumstances, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that has been adopted by the UN General Assembly on April 02, 2013, has the potential to offer some succour. If implemented in right earnest, it could tighten the noose around outlaw militias, who show no compunction in running their operations in defiance of international law.

Will the treaty come good on its promise? The stakes are high for the world leaders, particularly the permanent members of UN Security Council. It took them seven long years of diplomacy, lobbying and arm twisting to bring the treaty on the table. Surely, they would not like all the diplomatic jousting to end up as a smoke-and-mirrors exercise.

The value of the global arms trade is estimated to be worth $70 billion per annum. But rampant abuse of the trade is particularly vicious in some parts of the world. Africa, alone, loses 18 billion per annum due to armed violence. According to an estimate by Oxfam (2007), the continent’s economy has taken a crippling blow on account of bootlegging in arms and its attendant consequences, shrinking by 15 per cent annually. But the anathema is not endemic to Africa only. According to a well regarded 2012 Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution publication, "the relative importance of diversion or misuse of officially authorised transfers, compared to international entirely illegal black market trafficking has been thoroughly confirmed.”

The mystery of one in seven of the 7-8 million annually manufactured weapons being stolen without a clue about the offender’s whereabouts is still dumfounding for the authorities!

 Undoubtedly, the ATT treaty is the cornerstone to thwarting the reckless and illegitimate transfer of conventional weapons. But it is still miles away from making a real difference on the ground. It must take lessons from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty (CTBT) that was initiated long back in 1996 and waited for years to absorb most nations under its fold. Therefore, the success of the ATT will depend on its planning, implementation and, off course, patience.       

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017