CARICOM regional workshop on arms trade treaty opens in Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of foreign affairs, Winston Dookeran, delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the launch of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) arms trade treaty workshop in Port of Spain. The event was hosted by the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and co-funded by the United Nations Office on Disarmament Affairs. It was scheduled to run from 24-25 June 2014.
The objectives of the workshop were:
• Promotion of the ratification of the arms trade treaty (ATT);
• Development of a CARICOM common position on brokering (‘political binding’);
• Adoption and implementation of a CARICOM coordinating and implementing mechanism;
• Advancement of CARICOM model legislation for the ATT; and
• Provision of legal and technical assistance to CARICOM member states in the implementation of their obligations under the ATT
In his address, Dookeran praised IMPACS and the ICRC for “convening this vital and critical workshop which will assist CARICOM states in the implementation of the Treaty.”
The minister also indicated that the CARICOM region is positioned at the forefront in ensuring that the treaty becomes a reality through its ongoing advocacy, combined efforts and activities to promote the instrument. Dookeran pointed out that the region has received a great degree of goodwill from international partners for the fervour and vigour with which the ATT is being pursued. He also reinforced that Trinidad and Tobago has demonstrated its commitment as evidenced by the fact that it has taken all the political steps to ensure the objectives of the treaty are realized.
Dookeran further indicated that Trinidad and Tobago has offered to host the Secretariat of the ATT. He pointed out that as a small country it reflects the confidence in Trinidad and Tobago’s ability to fulfill such a global function.
Francis Forbes, executive director of IMPACS, delivered the opening remarks, which focused on the history of the region’s involvement with the development of the treaty. Forbes highlighted that over the last year 70% of the homicides within 11 CARICOM States were committed by illegal guns.
He stated, “…when CARICOM speaks to the devastation and havoc being inflicted upon the lives of innocent citizens directly related to the illicit trade in firearms and ammunition, we are in fact speaking to the reality that our citizens face every day.”
Forbes pointed out that CARICOM representing the Caribbean region was a significant influence in garnering the support of UN members to include small arms and light weapons (SALW), their component parts and ammunition in the treaty. He also emphasized that the region was called to tackle transnational crime in all its aspects, which ultimately means “taking the profit out of crime” as one of the 14 strategies in the recently agreed CARICOM crime and security strategy.
Judith Osuman, delegate for CARICOM states at the ICRC also noted that some CARICOM states have the highest per capita levels of homicide in the world. Mindful of the ICRC’s mandate, which is to protect people affected by armed conflict and situations of violence, she indicated that ICRC is happy to collaborate with CARICOM through IMPACS towards ratification and implementation of the treaty, which is directed towards the reduction of human suffering.
To date, 14 CARICOM members have signed the treaty, with six members depositing instruments of ratification.
Participants at the two-day workshop included senior legal and customs officials from CARICOM member states.