Caricom must present credible programmes of action if the region is to gain international support to host the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Secretariat in Trinidad and Tobago, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran has said.
Speaking at the regional workshop on the Arms Trade Treaty at Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, yesterday, Dookeran said the United Nations (UN) agencies need to be redistributed more equitably in their headquarters throughout the world and the region already had support on the issue from other nations, but the workshops were critical toward the future prospects of the achievement of a regional ATT secretariat because it would show whether or not the region has the capacity to do so.
“Capacity is not only a capacity of financial resource, but of technical know-how, commitment and professional know-how. Workshops of this nature [are] but the stepping stone and the building blocks of that capacity building that is required,” said Dookeran.
“We have moved from the negotiation stage of the treaty into generating the legitimacy of the process for which the UN has lent its full support. The legitimacy of that process would require us, and you in particular, who are the professionals in this field, who understand the different dimensions of the pursuit to work out credible programmes of action.
“I urge you today to take all of the right decisions, tough as they may be on the legislative front, on the operational efficiency front, because the world is looking at Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region to see whether they can indeed meet the standards and requirements of a secretariat for the ATT,” he added.
However, he pointed out that time was not on their side because the task before them to develop a legislative framework for the various countries was a huge task that must be done within a limited time period.
“We have to reduce that time because we expect, hopefully, by the end of the year that the treaty would in fact be ratified by more than the minimum number identified to make it a reality and the first conference of State parties will be held in Mexico, where the issue of the secretariat will be considered,” said Dookeran.
“We must be ready in the Caricom region to win the confidence of all the State parties in the world that we can in fact deliver on their expectations.
“So in designing your frameworks and your plans, bear in mind it must be measurable in terms of its impact and to be able to solicit confidence among the whole global community that we can so do,” he said.
Dookeran said there were several countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Guatemala, which have formally lent their support to Trinidad and Tobago’s bid to host the secretariat; and this country also has support from Angola and New Zealand.