THE world including Tonga is immune to the terrible human consequences of the poor regulation of international arms trade.
Our region too, stands vulnerable, as a hub and as transfer points for the illegal trade of arms. The very citizens of our respective countries, therefore stand at the highest risk, to our safety, security and our livelihoods.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Tu’ivakano made these comments when he officially opened a two day workshop on the ratification and implementation processes of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at Davina House this morning.
Lord Speaker says the Arms Trade Treaty or ATT was adopted in 2013 to address the growing global concern over the past two decades, as a result of the terrible human consequences of the poor regulation of international arms trade.
“Such poor oversight has resulted in arms and weapons falling into the wrong hands, resulting in a variety of horrific consequences. Many countries in the world have witnessed increased conflicts, increased armed violence, serious human rights violations, and loss of life amongst other things,” explains the Hon. Speaker.
This workshop therefore is to raise awareness on the most important attributes of the ATT and how MPs can assist in the promotion, ratification and implementation of the ATT, as a means of curbing the illegal international arms trade.
It also provides the ideal platform for nine Pacific Parliaments represented in the workshop to all share their country experiences, challenges and more importantly, their future outlook on the ATT and how it will benefit the region.
Meanwhile Chair of PGA National Group (New Zealand), Hon. Su’a William Sio asserts that ATT is about monitoring the sales, exports and import of weapons. Therefore, it is important that weapons do not cross borders where there is an embargo, or that weapons do not end up being used for serious human-rights violations.
“Or used for acts of genocide or crimes against humanity, terrorist attacks, violent crimes or organized crimes. We do not want weapons to impair poverty eradication or socioeconomic development and nor do we want them ending up in the wrong hands,” says Hon Sio.
Sio who is also the New Zealand MP for Mangere constituency also highlights that adopting ATT and its principles and commitments means we (Parliaments) commit themselves to work towards maintaining peace in our regions and in the world.
“That we want to eliminate human suffering; that as human race we want to work collaboratively in a transparent and responsible manner for all our sakes,” explains Hon. Sio
The PGA Chair also emphasized that joining ATT sends a clear signal of commitment to many countries that are important trading partners and provide essential development to us.
“That we are committed to eradicating armed violence caused by improper exports of arms and weapons of destruction,” maintains Hon. Sio.
Tonga has yet to sign the ATT and according to Lord Speaker Tu’ivakano he is confident that this workshop will catalyze Tonga’s efforts to do so.
He also maintains that parliamentarians play a crucial role in supporting ATT and ensuring the right controls and regulations are in place.
“Our initiatives will trickle down to the rest of the country and so it is crucial that we are well informed on the ATT and how we as Members of Parliament can promote its ratification and implementation,” says the Speaker
Three parliamentarians of the Legislative Assembly including Lord Ma'afu, Dr Pohiva Tu’ionetoa, and Lord Tu’iha’ateiho are participating in the event.
The two day deliberation is funded by the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).