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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country supports the coming into force of a legally binding and robust arms trade treaty (ATT) but maintain that is must meet the norms of international law.

Deputy Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel reiterated the nation’s position Thursday at the Third Regional Workshop on Negotiations for the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines attaches tremendous importance to the negotiation, conclusion, adoption and entry into force of a legally binding and robust Arms Trade Treaty (ATT),” Miguel said, according to a transcript of her remarks sent to the media by the Office of the Prime Minister.

“At a minimum, this instrument must encompass all conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, as well as their ammunition and parts and components,” Miguel further said, noting that his is also the position of member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

“The ATT must also be consistent with acceptable norms of international law, especially international humanitarian and human rights law. Of course, the provisions of the treaty must be consistent with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, which provides a right of self-defence to all states,” Miguel further said.

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She, however, said that this right “must not be invoked, or abused by some states to stall or create obstacles in the path of the overwhelming majority of states that wish to conclude an agreement to regulate — not ban — the trade in conventional weapons.

“Such regulations will assist us in clogging the loopholes that lead to the illicit arms trade. This illegal trade is linked to other trans-national crimes, including the nefarious narcotics trade, human trafficking and organized crime. We in CARICOM have suffered too much as a result of a menace which is not home grown, but rather is produced in countries where the regulatory framework for the transfer of arms is either non-existent or weak,” Miguel further said.

She said, “The moment is ripe for CARICOM to continue to make a difference at the United Nations and to demonstrate our common vision on the need for an ATT.

“We have joined Members of the U.N. and other entities to conclude many instruments consistent with our belief in justice, equity and the rule of law. Such a rules-based international order calls for the elimination of nuclear and conventional weapons; cluster munitions and landmines, as well as biological and toxin weapons.”

Such an instrument, Miguel said, must also require the major exporters, importers and brokers to agree to an international regime with common standards on the transfer of all conventional weapons.

“The ATT would fill the space in our armoury dedicated to the non-proliferation of illegal weapons,” she told workshop participants.

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