Implementation of the #ArmsTreaty – key to end the nightmare of armed violence

May 5 2011, 11:21 AM  by Øistein Thorsen

In the Caribbean, we have not fully counted the economic or social costs of armed violence. But what we do know is that the violence that has invaded our lives is overwhelming us daily, creating a blur on our prospects for sustainable peace and development.By Folade Mutota, the Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence,

The imperatives are clear. A comprehensive arms trade treaty must be based on the pillars of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and sustainable development. There is a nexus between security and development and the principles of the United Nations Charter are there to guide us in determining how we ensure that we do not trade one for the other.

In my country, Trinidad and Tobago, when mothers lament the demise of their sons, they say, “Somebody’s missing, somebody’s missing here today.” For every “somebody” who is missing as a result of gun violence, there is an increased likelihood that women and families will be plunged into poverty. When somebody is missing, it adds to the burden of care which women are expected to perform in families and communities, and reduces women’s chances for higher education and career advancement. Gender-based violence is becoming more prevalent, fuelled in part by easy access to firearms and unequal gender relations. It is unconscionable therefore, to continue to rely on women to nurture families, yet not protect women from violence in this treaty.

The scope of this treaty must reflect the dynamism and the promise of our time. It must also acknowledge that whilst technology holds promise, its misuse can have devastating effects on human development. This treaty gives governments the opportunity to protect their population from human error or corruption, by ensuring that technology, as well as the parts and components specially designed or modified for use in conventional arms, are embedded in the arms trade treaty.

The annual trade in arms is well beyond the national budgets of all CARICOM member states, and many in Latin America. In order to efficiently respond to the current nightmare of armed violence international cooperation and assistance is  vital to ensure implementation of the arms trade treaty.

CDRAV’s most recent proposal on implementation of the ATT posits that implementation in its entirety, including the resourcing, development cooperation, challenges, monitoring and evaluation, must be thoroughly dissected looking forward. In order to do so, harmonization of laws is required in CARICOM member states. We also propose a national implementation unit, and an independent monitoring authority, which can perhaps operate at the regional level. This structure will work  in harmony with an international monitoring agency.

The scourge of gun violence does not only take the life of the deceased person. It wipes out families as hope and happiness is replaced by despair and anger. Anger left unresolved will ultimately return to haunt us, and therein lies the recurrent cost to the state. The treaty will be incomplete for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean if these issues are not addressed.

For more information about Folade’s work visit:

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