Australia will today take a leading role in negotiating a global Arms Trade Treaty — imposing new controls on illicit cross-border dealings in weapons including automatic rifles, hand guns, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition.
Speaking from New York, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he would seek support in the United Nations for a Treaty to require countries to track and report on major arms transfers and sales, leading to greater enforcement of UN arms embargos and sanctions regimes.
Senator Carr said he would outline Australia’s position in a national statement to the UN on Tuesday July 2.
“Australia’s message is that it’s time for action on global arms control,” Senator Carr said.
“We’re seeking a comprehensive agreement on arms control — enforceable through public reporting to the UN — and aimed at reducing the continued flow of conventional weapons to rogue groups and terrorists.
“Each day there are around 2,000 deaths in conflicts fuelled by illegally traded arms. Yet as Amnesty International points out, global trade in some foods is more strictly regulated than trade in weapons.
“Momentum is building for action on an arms trade treaty. Countries heavily affected by illegal weapons trades — in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean — are looking to Australia and others for leadership.
“We’ll be taking up that challenge with this national address to the UN — pushing for a unified international response, and for a crackdown on illegal arms sales around the world.”
Senator Carr said Australia would also provide $1 million to initiate a multilateral assistance fund to help developing countries implement the Treaty.
The funds would support measures such as national legislation, setting up export control agencies and building expertise in assessing and enforcing arms controls.
There are an estimated 875 million small arms in circulation worldwide. Illicit arms trading in conventional weaponry is estimated at around $1 billion per year.
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