‘Illicit trade in arms leading to growth in crime’

Kathmandu, February 27

Expressing serious concern about growing illicit trade and use of small arms and light weapons in Asia and around the world, a meeting of parliament members from some Asian countries today issued six-point “Kathmandu Plan of Action” for prompt ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty by their respective governments.

At the regional Asia parliamentary round-table meeting organised by Parliamentarians for Global Action, parliament members from Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Malaysia vowed to take initiatives for tabling motions or resolutions in their parliaments for ratification and implementation of ATT.

Parliamentarians said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in the region had led to growth in transnational organised crime. Altogether 130 countries have signed the convention while 81 countries have ratified it. Some prominent Asian countries, including Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Maldives have yet to ratify the treaty.

The parliamentarians said they would exercise greater oversight over proposed government defence contracts and seek greater transparency and provision of information in procurement processes relating to acquiring arms.

The parliamentarians vowed to urge their governments to ratify and implement all treaties, which seek to improve global security, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Peter A Barcroft, director of Peace and Democracy Programme of Parliamentarians for Global Action, said the growing proliferation in recent years of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in Asia had led to growth in transnational organised crime, exacerbated internal conflicts in the region as well as complicated post conflict efforts and solutions in certain countries.

Stressing the need for ratifying the treaty, Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Eknath Dhakal said they would make efforts for ratification of the treaty.

Sophie Kemkhadze, deputy director of UNDP, stressed that gender and development aspects should also be considered while dealing against the possession and use of small arms and light weapons.

Once the treaty is ratified, it would help promote cooperation, transparency and responsible action by state parties in the international trade in arms.