United Nations: Pakistan has supported India's stand on the UN Arms Trade Treaty that would regulate the $70 billion conventional arms trade around the world, saying it favours the arms exporting countries and does not protects the interests of importers. "The treaty may be seen by many as essentially a product of and by the exporters only. It falls short of striking an appropriate balance of interests and obligations among the exporters and importers as well as the affected states," said Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Masood Khan.
In his remarks to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference at the UN headquarters in New York - which concluded Thursday - Khan said the call for balance was echoed by an overwhelming majority. "Some treaty provisions, however, legitimise in a global legal instrument what the existing national and plurilateral export control systems cover. The interests of exporting countries have been accommodated in the form of special exemptions, exceptions and protections," he has said.
The Treaty fell apart due to lack of consensus among the 193 member countries because of opposition from North Korea, Iran and Syria. India said the treaty in its present form would compromise with its national interest as it mainly favours the arms exporting nations and is weak on arms supply to non-State actors.
Pakistan, however, remained silent on the second concerns raised by India. Proponents of the Treaty have now decided to put it to vote at the UN General Assembly as early as Tuesday.
While the final decision by India is yet to be taken, New Delhi is most likely to end up abstaining, if not voting against the draft treaty. The US on Thursday, however, tried to ally Indian fears by arguing that it "does not harm" India's national interest.
"My own view is that this treaty will not be harmful to India's security and certainly not in any way harm the very strong bilateral relationship between India and the United States," Tom Countryman, head of the US delegation to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference told reporters during a conference call late Thursday night. In her intervention during the closing arguments at the UN headquarters in New York, India's Permanent Representative to Conference on Disarmament, Geneva and Head of the Indian Delegation to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference, Sujata Mehta, said that the final version fell short of India's expectations and that of other likeminded countries.
"At the commencement of this Conference India had made clear that the ATT should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illicit use especially by terrorists and other unauthorised and unlawful non-State actors. The provisions in the final draft on terrorism and non-state actors are weak and diffused and find no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty," Mehta said in her intervention.
India, she said, has stressed consistently that the ATT should ensure a balance of obligations between exporting and importing states. "India cannot accept that the Treaty be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states parties without consequences," she said.
"The relevant provisions in the final draft do not meet our requirements. There is a fundamental imbalance in the text which is flawed as the weight of obligations is tilted against importing States. As an importing state we will take measures to ensure that the treaty does not affect the stability and predictability of defense cooperation agreements and contracts entered into by India," Mehta argued.
The draft text came up for approval on Thursday after the UN members failed to adopt it in July last year even after month-long negotiations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment on the failure of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach an agreement on the text, which for the first time would have regulated the international arms trade.