Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (256)

John Gormley

Question:

372 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the formulation of an international arms trade treaty; and if he will take to opportunity of the Irish Presidency of the EU to pursue this issue. [2059/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I am aware of a process led by a number of non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, aimed at the development of an international arms trade treaty which is intended to be a legally binding agreement with core principles and mechanisms relating to international transfers of arms. While work on drafting the text is still ongoing, it is a promising initiative and I commend the NGOs concerned for their efforts. My Department will continue to be associated with the process and will closely monitor developments.

I support the principle of having legally binding international agreements on export controls with as wide a participation as possible. This is particularly important with respect to small arms and light weapons. Ireland is committed to working with others to ensure the illicit trafficking of such weapons is dealt with effectively by the international community.

A welcome aspect of the draft treaty is it has the objective of setting out states' existing international legal obligations in the area of international transfers of arms. In addition, once ratified, the draft framework treaty would enable the international community to move forward incrementally, by means of subsequent more specific instruments.

An official of my Department participated in a conference held last November at Cambridge University in England, the purpose of which was to examine from a legal perspective the text of the draft treaty. The NGOs involved in the promotion of the draft treaty will meet next month in Costa Rica to decide on how this process can be further advanced. The proposed international arms trade treaty is under discussion within the EU. Discussions have taken place at working group level, most recently earlier this month, and will continue during Ireland's Presidency of the EU.

Question No. 373 answered with QuestionNo. 368.