TerraViva United Nations

Oxfam Cautions Against Potential Loophole In Upcoming Arms Trade Treaty

Jun 28 2012 (IPS) - NEW YORK, 27 Jun — In a report released Tuesday, the London-based Oxfam emphasized the importance of including spare parts and arms components under international regulation in the upcoming Arms Trade Treaty.

Martin Butcher, the Oxfam Policy Advisor for the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty), told IPS, “Our goal is to have the trade in parts and components of arms regulated in the same way as arms themselves.”

The report, entitled Piecing It All Together, expresses Oxfam’s concern that, if parts and components of arms are not adopted as part of the regulations set by the ATT, nations and organisations will be able to bypass the regulations by sourcing parts individually before assembling them into fully functional weapons.

“That would clearly be a major loophole, rendering the treaty completely ineffective,” Butcher said.

“This will bring much needed transparency to the market for parts and components, hopefully preventing many illicit sales which currently occur due to the lack of comprehensive global regulation.”

The report defines parts and components that would fall under the proposed regulations as those that “are specifically designed, manufactured, or modified for military purposes, and which are critical to functioning weapons and their ammunition.”

“This would not include simple items, but only those specifically designed and manufactured for the arms industry,” the report states.

It also explains that most arms, ranging from personal firearms to large war machines, are unable to be maintained without spare parts and components. By restricting the trade of these parts, it says, it will be much more difficult for illegitimate organisations to maintain an operational arsenal.

It goes on to suggest that if the ATT is to be successful, the transfer of parts and components should be subjected to the same amount of risk assessment as are completed weapons and systems, and calls for reports of arms transfers to be made public.

“The additional transparency will shine a light on a trade that too often goes unregulated at present, or happens out of sight,” Butcher said.

“Between 2008 and 2011, the global trade in parts and components was worth at least $9.7bn,” the report states.

“Without this huge movement of parts and components the arms trade as we know it could not exist.”

The global treaty is the first ever on weapons and ammunition, and is scheduled for debate at the United Nations July 2 through 29. The details of the treaty, including the inclusion of parts and components in the regulations, will be decided at the conference.

According to the Oxfam report, “The Arms Trade Treaty provides a unique opportunity to regulate the specialised parts and components used in the arms trade and, indeed, will be fatally flawed if it does not do so.”

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