Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (52)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

182 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government is to give support to a campaign of Oxfam and Amnesty International to control arms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25219/04]

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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. A welcome aspect of the proposed treaty is that 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. While work on the drafting of the text is still ongoing, it is a promising initiative and I commend the NGOs concerned for their efforts.

An official of my Department participated in a conference held last November at Cambridge University in England, the purpose of which was to examine the text of the draft treaty. I understand that the text of the proposed treaty is currently being re-examined from a legal perspective by those NGOs involved in the arms control campaign who met last February in Costa Rica and that as a consequence of those discussions revisions to the text are to be made.

An official from my Department also attended an international workshop on Enhancing the International Export Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons — the Case for an International Arms Trade Treaty, which took place in Helsinki last June. There was broad representation at the workshop both from governments and from NGOs. Ireland will continue to be associated with the process and will closely monitor developments.