The East African Community Legislative Assembly (EALA) is set to cooperate with the International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to advocate for the partner states to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aimed at preventing, and eradicating the illicit trade in Conventional arms and prevent their diversion in the East African Community.
The Arms Trade Treaty is an international treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional arms and seeks to prevent and eradicate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms, by establishing international standards governing arms transfer. “The role we can play (EALA) is to advocate for a quick ratification on matters that really touch on our interest we will do advocacy because starting a ratification of international instruments is a matter within the sovereignty of each partner state,” said the speaker of the regional parliament Martin Ngoga.
ATT was adopted in 2013 and came into force in 2014 with only Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda having signed the treaty on June 2013 but yet to accede.
In Africa 23 countries are state parties, 16 signatories and 15 are yet to join the agreement.
“All that ATT calls for is that the ease of some responsibilities exercise in the transfer of these weapons but it doesn’t take away the right of either importing states or exporting states to make decisions which are critical to the sovereignty as well as the security of their own states,” said Dumisani Dladla head of the ATT secretariat.
Mr. Dladla said that there is a misconceptions with some states of signing or ratifying the treaty that it may be difficult for states to import, and mandatory to report all transfers. Dladla
The ATT secretariat indicated that States have the right to acquire weapons under the UN charter, “there is a recognition of that right for states for self-defense and use of weapons towards that particular objective those who export weapons would at some point make an assessment however that does not chuck from the rights if states to acquire weapons.”
According to Article 6 (3) a State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.
Despite only three East African Community having signed the ATT, member states are already state parties to the Nairobi protocol with the exception of S.Sudan.
The Nairobi protocol prevents, control and aims on the reduction of small arms and light weapons in the great lake region and the horn of Africa.