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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 18, IWN — Suspected illegal guns were used to murder two Vincentians this month, when a Vincentian diplomat said ammunitions remain “the most significant concerns” in the draft United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

The last death — on Friday — came two days before negotiators from 150 countries gather in New York today – Monday — to hammer out a binding international treaty to end unregulated conventional arms sales.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is joining other U.N. member states in negotiating the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) after the talks last, when the historical initiative in the area of conventional arms failed to reach agreement on a treaty text.

Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves (U.N. file photo).
Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves (U.N. file photo).

Earlier this month, at the Fourth Regional Workshop on Negotiations for the UN treaty, Camillo Gonsalves, Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the U.N., noted that ammunition remain chief among the challenges in reaching the ATT.

He said that at the end of talks last July, CARICOM and its like-minded allies were “unable to anchor ammunition within the scope of the Treaty.

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“Instead, we settled on a lighter — and, frankly, easily circumvented — clause that was buried almost exactly in the middle of the text.

“With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been too large a concession for Caribbean countries to make at the time, and we should welcome the opportunity to revisit the issue of where and how ammunition is regulated in the global arms trade,” Gonsalves said.

The diplomat said that every year enough ammunition is manufactured to shoot every person on earth twice.

He said it is important that the Caribbean pursues the strongest possible regulatory framework for ammunition.

“If, miraculously, an Arms Trade Treaty allowed us to somehow completely halt the flow of firearms to our region, the fact is that there are already enough guns within our region to cause instability and thwart development for decades to come,” he said.

Gonsalves said the guns that were involved in thousands of shootings across CARICOM in 2012 are still in the region.

“The way to silence those guns is to treat ammunition with the same regulator rigor that we propose for firearms.”

He noted that the CARICOM Declaration On Small Arms And Light Weapons issued in 2011, mentions “ammunition” 11 times in 18 paragraphs.

Garry Williams was shot and killed in Kingstown Friday night.
Garry Williams was shot and killed in Kingstown Friday night.

Gonsalves further stated that at February’s CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Haiti, leaders again expressed their “grave concern over the unregulated trade in conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons and their ammunition”.

“It is safe to say that we, as diplomats and negotiators, have a clear and strong mandate from our heads on this issue,” he said.

But Gonsalves said strengthening the provisions against ammunition will not be easy.

“A cursory glance on the web site of the United States State Department lists eight ‘Key U.S. Redlines’ in their negotiating position on the Treaty. The fourth of those ‘redlines’ states ‘[t]here will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.’ Other states share the United States’ view on this matter,” Gonsalves said.

But he said the region should not be deterred by “our apparently opposed negotiating stances on ammunition.

“We know that our friends in the United States are also grappling with the scourge of gun violence and its regulation. We must engage with them more fully to understand their concerns and to seek creative solutions to this impasse without compromising our interest in greater regulation of ammunition flows into our region.

Elmore Mapp, 46, was shot and killed in Belair Friday night.
Elmore Mapp, 46, was shot and killed in Belair Friday night.

“The issue of ammunition, remains, in my humble estimation, one of the most significant concerns in the current draft treaty. To exclude ammunition from the scope of the treaty will seriously compromise the stated goal of the Treaty to ‘prevent … arms from contributing to human suffering’. We know that our position on ammunition is shared by the African Union, many of our European allies, and many of our friends in Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. Let us dedicate special attention to addressing this issue in collaboration with our like-minded allies,” Gonsalves said. On March 8, Elmore Augustus Mapp, 46, was shot and killed during a robbery in Belair.

Garry “Scare Dem” Williams of Sion Hill/Rose Place was gunned downed in Kingstown Friday night.