21 July 2012

East Africa: EAC in Plans to Regulate Transfer of Arms Within Region

Arusha — The East African Community is looking to bring to life an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that is intended to address issues with unregulated transfers of arms within the region.

The EAC deputy Secretary General in charge of political federation says the ATT would deal with unchecked transfers of conventional arms in all its manifestations.

Dr Julius Rotich was at the occasion of ongoing high-level officials of the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York, USA.

He said the regional ATT would exist with sufficient safeguards guaranteeing respect to sovereignty, territorial integrity and legitimate access to related technology.

East Africa has over the years experienced and continued to experience devastating consequences of unregulated arms transfers.

Dr Rotich suggests such problems should be controlled now, legally.

"The region is not arms-producing yet it remains awash with arms," he said in the packed meeting.

"The nexus between easy availability of arms, terrorism and piracy continue to manifest itself in the region and this remains of primary concern to the region's peace and security."

The easy availability of arms within the region has facilitated displacement of populations, widespread human rights abuse.

Dr Rotich also observed that the easy flow of arms has undermined legitimate governments.

"The inextricable link between unregistered arms transfers, human rights and humanitarian issues should be at the core of the treaty objectives drawing from our regional experience," he emphasized.

He sounded optimism that the ATT will radically transform the manner in which arms, as a major security component are managed to the advantage of enhanced global security.

The instrument (ATT) is also predicted to play a vital role in global stability and development.

The EAC member countries-Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi-are unanimous for the ATT plan.

The instrument includes all arms in the UN Conventional Arms Register along with Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and Ammunitions.

The New York conference started July 2 and will be concluded next week on July 27.

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