“The resolution will allow for the creation of an open-ended working group under the auspices of the United Nations, to discuss the possibility of a legally binging international agreement on common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons,” he says.
“We have a global arms industry but we don`t have a global regulation,” McDonald adds. “Different states have different rules governing their export and transfer of weapons; this means any dodgy arms dealer or dubious government can easily find their way around this at best patchwork system of regulation.”
Retired Kenyan diplomat and Africa Peace Forum activist Ambassador Ochieng Adala says their “intention is not to curtail or stop the flow of arms but [to ensure it takes place] in a structured manner.”
Mamoepa says SA remains a strong supporter of all disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control measures. “SA has national legislation that covers the import and export of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons (SALW). In terms of the Act, applications for the export of conventional weapons are considered by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), a Ministerial Committee appointed by the President. All decisions regarding the export of South African weapons are therefore taken at Ministerial level”.
The ATT follows from a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December 2006. The United States was the sole country to vote against the resolution although 24 other governments abstained.
That resolution asked then-UN secretary general Kofi Annan to seek the views of member states “on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.”
The treaty builds on the success of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention and formally named the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction that outlawed the manufacture, storage, export and use of antipersonnel landmines (APM) and further mandated their destruction.
SA was an early supporter of the treaty and in 1998 destroyed most of its APMs in a controlled explosion witnessed by the media. Then SA ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Jackie Selebi, was a key mover behind the treaty. Selebi went on to become Director General of Foreign Affairs before being appointed