Friday, November 12, 2010

EU-UNIDIR Regional Seminar for Countries in South and Central Asia 10-12 November 2010, Kathmandu, Nepal

"Supporting the Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations through Regional Discussions and Expertise Sharing"

Regional Seminar for countries in South and Central Asia, 10-12 November 2010, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Organized by UNIDIR - European Union - UNRCPD - Government of Nepal

Participating countries: Afghanistan - Bangladesh - Bhutan - Cambodia - Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan - Laos -Malaysia - Maldives - Mongolia - Myanmar - Nepal - Pakistan - Sri Lanka - Tajikistan - Thailand - Turkmenistan - Vietnam - Uzbekistan  (UNIDIR website for the Seminar)

Unofficial summary

Many countries from South and Central Asia are recipients of arms rather than exporters. A particular concern is the illicit trafficking of arms to armed non-state actors, in particular those designated by States as ‘terrorists’. Most participants in the regional seminar stated that the scope of the future Arms Trade Treaty should be limited, focusing especially on small arms and light weapons (SALW) and ammunition since this is the principal subject of illicit trade to armed non-state actors. The argument against a broader scope was that it would discourage adherence to the ATT. The desire was expressed for broad participation, in particular of the exporting countries. The call was also made for a succinct and clear treaty with an annex listing weapons covered by the treaty. Such annex could be easily updated. There was no agreement among participants on how to regulate private arms manufacturers.

The risk of having weapons falling into the wrong hands (in particular terrorists) was often referred to during discussions. The need to ensure ‘peace and stability’ and especially to avoiding large quantities of weapons in any given region was cited as an important criteria in efforts to limit the arms trade. With regard to human rights criteria for assessing the legality of transfers, a fear was expressed by some participants that the criteria would be used for political reasons as the criteria might be quite subjective. It was asked whether an exporting state's assessment of the situation in an intended recipient state would be communicated to the recipient state.

With respect to implementation, there was a reluctance among many participants to establish an international monitoring body. A meeting of States Parties seemed to be a preferred mechanism to promote the treaty's effective implementation. A lot of importance was accorded to cooperation between states on the sharing of best practices as well as assistance to enable them to control illicit access to arms by non-state actors.

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