MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran is flanked by Sabrina Mowlah-Baksh, right, of the Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence, and Anna MacDonald of Oxfam during yesterday’s Caricom workshop on the “Implementation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty” at Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

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Mexico gives support

T&T’s UN Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat bid...

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

Mexico has become the first country to give Trinidad and Tobago its support as this country continues its lobby to be the Secretariat for the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

“I was very satisfied to hear from the Mexican ambassador who visited me (last) week in which he presented a diplomatic note showing (his country) has given its support. Mexico is the first country to do so and it is something I treasure,” Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said yesterday, as he delivered the feature address at the opening of a two-day workshop for Caricom on the implementation of the Treaty.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had focused on the Arms Trade Treaty during her maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly three years ago, saying arms and ammunition were the equivalent of weapons of mass destruction for small nations like the Caribbean. At the third CELAC meeting in Cuba last month, she announced that Trinidad and Tobago was willing to be home to the Secretariat.

“It must be established to all the countries in the world the importance of locating such a secretariat in Trinidad and Tobago. Not only in the context of our quest to support the efforts that are taking place but also in our desire to play a more meaningful role in solving global problems,” Dookeran said.

He noted that the 46 international institutions in the world were concentrated in seven countries. Trinidad and Tobago and other countries not in that club must offer themselves for a new distribution of global spread of these international bodies, he said.   

He noted that a legal infrastructure needed to be in place and subject to global scrutiny, and the logistics of establishing such an organisation needed to be sustainable, as well as funding and cost effectiveness of this proposal, he said.

“The global objectives of the ATT must be adhered to, not just in narrow Caribbean terms but in a global perspective,” he said, as he noted the Treaty’s transition from a diplomatic initiative to a global institution. 

“Building institutions is not a glamorous thing but without it there can be no sustainability. (Countries around the world must understand) the importance of locating such a secretariat in this country, not only in the context of our quest to support the efforts that are taking place but also in our desire to play a more meaningful role in solving global problems,” he said. 

In this context then, he said the workshop will have to address very important issues, among them that arms trafficking is not a Caribbean problem but a global one. 

“We must demonstrate what we are doing will serve a global cause. It is important that our security experts create new opportunities and innovations for handling this issue. Our support from the world depends on our ability to convince them in that regard,” Dookeran said. 

The objective, he said, is to establish in the highest possible international standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms. 

Dookeran said he hoped these discussions will be fruitful for the region, and a significant contribution to world peace and security to ensure armed conflict will be reduced and the impact it has towards humanity mitigated, even as he said he “lamented the disturbances” taking place in Venezuela, where government and anti-government demonstrators clashed in that country’s capital, Caracas. See Page 23

As of November 2013, 115 states have signed the Treaty.  All Caricom members with the exception of Haiti have signed and four—Antigua and Barbuda; Grenada; Guyana; and Trinidad and Tobago—are among the eight countries to have ratified it. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after the date of the 50th ratification.

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