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Parliamentarians call for intl arms trade treaty
Published on 7 Aug. 2009 10:36 PM IST
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Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI), New Delhi, organized a briefing session for Indian Parliamentarians on the United Nations Process for an Arms Trade Treaty on August 3 at Constitution Club in New Delhi. According to a press release, parliamentarians from different states and both the houses of parliament attended the briefing session, including Biswajit Diamary, Dr Thockhom Meinya, C. M. Chang, Chandu Lal Sahu, Ninong Ering, Kamla Devi Patle, Fransisco Sardinah, Murarilal Singh and Sanjay Dhotre. Binalakshmi Nepram, secretary general, CAFI stated that the world military spending has broken the trillion dollar mark and is estimated to have reached $ 1464 billion in 2008. Still there is still no comprehensive, binding international treaty on the trade in conventional arms worldwide and that there is a need to involve the parliamentarians in the process of making the ‘Arms Trade Treaty’ happen. Lt Gen (retd) Dr B. S. Malik, president CAFI mentioned that it is only when the arms start proliferating in any normal conflict; that it becomes an alarming situation and hence it becomes imperative to address the problems and conflicts when they are at a smaller level rather than waiting for it to grow and result in a grave problem later. He also pointed out that “9/11 has shown us another direction that defence and security are two different things.” Ravinder Pal Singh, Security Analyst and Former Project Leader on Arms Procurement, SIPRI, gave a presentation on “Democratic Oversight of Security Sectors: A Study On Indian Parliamentary Processes and the Arms Trade Treaty”. He stated that “the Indian defence budget design has not changed since 1939. An effective parliamentarian is expected to act as a bridge between the governments, the military elite, the industry and the civil society. An informed parliamentarian is therefore, a key element for improving quality of governance in the society and building stable security relations.” Dr Thockchom Meinya, Member of Parliament Lok Sabha who was the chief guest expressed that “The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) can save lives and help prevent attacks like the Mumbai terror.” He also mentioned that “ATT does not mean, no transfer of arms, but it means that we need to comply with rules of the UN charter and other multilateral treaties.” Further, C.M.Chang, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Nagaland, expressed his concern that almost all the states in the border of India’s North East region have a problem of excessive weapons, and in these areas weapons have become very cheap. According to him it is very necessary that the government of India makes amendments in its policies so that there are proper checks on the supply of weapons. Biswajit Daimary, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Assam, mentioned that the situation is more complicated as it has the maximum number of insurgents and there is a rampant supply of arms and weapons. He described the evolution of the introduction of unregulated arms in the state of Assam since the 1960’s. He further stated “It was only a simple demand of the establishment of a tribal hostel for Bodo natives and the demand for Bodo language on the Assamese radio which gradually lead to demand for a separate state eventually resulting in excessive arms supply and armed violence.” He also stressed on the fact that “to stop this excessive supply of arms we need a good policy from the government.”

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