We need a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty

Posted: June 22, 2012 in Peace Building
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Retired Canadian Military Officer Calls on Canada to Support a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty

 Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Baird;

As a retired Canadian military commander who has proudly served our country during a 33 year career, I am calling on our government to press for a strong and effective international Arms Trade Treaty.

In serving our country, military members have learned firsthand why a strong treaty is necessary. We have witnessed the devastation that occurs when weapons and ammunition get into the wrong hands. Across the world, easy access to guns, especially small arms and light weapons, has prolonged armed conflict and killed, maimed and scarred many soldiers and countless civilians, Canadians among them. We have been on the front lines and we have witnessed the carnage.

Our experience has shown us the urgent need for global cooperation to regulate international weapons transfers. We need an international treaty that will set strong universal rules for the movement of all conventional weapons and ammunition among states. We need a treaty that will minimize the risks of weapons getting into the wrong hands, such as governments that would use them against their own citizens, or warlords who would use them to recruit and abuse children. We need a treaty with adequate reporting mechanisms so that action on treaty obligations can be fully monitored.

We believe the Arms Trade Treaty should be solidly based in respecting the laws of armed conflict  or International Humanitarian Law, which is the foundation for ensuring that our troops preserve and protect the lives, dignity and livelihoods of civilians, and in turn are protected from torture and abuse. Respect for IHL is the key measure for judging whether an arms transfer should go forward.

An effective ATT must also hold states to account for their decisions and actions, and prevent the diversion of weapons into criminal and irresponsible channels. The treaty must not contain exemptions or loopholes that would undermine strong regulations.

As a former military leader, I believe that increased transparency regarding our arms imports and exports will help prevent corruption and potential overspending on equipment which may not be appropriate to a given country’s defence needs. I am convinced that the general information disclosed on types of weapons, transfers and the amounts of money involved will not undermine a country’s strategic interests and should by no means be considered as “classified” for military purposes.

I urge Canada to work for a treaty that saves lives and protects human rights, one that will prevent states from authorizing conventional weapons and ammunition transfers where there is a substantial risk that the transferred goods will be used in violation of international human rights or international humanitarian law or to undermine socio-economic development.

As a former senior officer in Canada’s armed forces, I call on the Canadian government to exercise international leadership in the tradition of Canadian values, and to make every effort before treaty negotiations begin in July 2012 to work for a treaty which will make us all proud to be Canadians.

I would be pleased to assist in any way possible.

Best regards;

In the cause of peace.

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

President PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com

Accredited Peace Professional

Civilian Peace Services Canada
Web: https://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

http://civilianpeaceservice.ca

 

Email: pmaillet@magma.ca
Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

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