Canada has yet to sign UN arms treaty

As of Monday June third, Canada had not signed onto a UN sponsored arms trade deal, the CBC reports. During question period in the House of Commons, Foreign Affairs minister John Baird made it clear that despite seeming on board in signing the international arms treaty, he would be cautious of it and seek additional input from outside sources before coming to any conclusions.

"We believe that any treaty regarding the sale of munitions that helps move the international community closer to world-leading standards is a good thing."

"We participated actively in these discussions. I think we have an obligation to listen before we act, and that is why we will be consulting with Canadians before the government takes any decision," said Baird.

The Canadian Press describes the nature of the proposed arms treaty as one which will essentially make it more difficult for weapons to reach areas where civilians live and attend school, in order to protect them, and deter cases of genocide.  “[The treaty will] prohibit the transfer of conventional weapons if they violate arms embargoes or if they promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, and if they could be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.”

Stopping genocide and war, and therefore limiting needless civilian deaths through the use of arms treaties sounds like it makes sense, right? So why is John Baird concerned? There has been some suspicion that the government may be linking the UN arms treaty with the former long-gun registration.

Politicians such as NDP Paul Dewar have called these allegations preposterous, and tried to convince the government that this treaty is not about limiting gun ownership in places like Canada or the United States, but instead to protect citizens in countries that have been taken over by war lords and are committing genocide of their own people.

"This is about people in places like the Congo. This is actually about preventing Syria. This is about what happened in Sudan," said Dewar.

"It was a very poor display of our minister of foreign affairs on a very serious subject, and he should not only apologize but he should get up and explain: what the hell was he thinking?," Dewar continued.

Sixty countries including Germany, France and the United Kingdom have already signed onto the arms treaty, and even the United States says it intends to sign it.  NGO’S such as Oxfam are considering the creation of this treaty an important triumph for halting the global arms trade which ultimately only ends up hurting innocent citizens while empowering corrupt war lords.

In a statement on Oxfam America’s website, policy advisor Scott Stedjan discussed how the agreement would be binding and what the effects on countries would be.

“The Arms Trade Treaty is the first internationally-binding agreement to regulate the $85 billion annual trade in arms and ammunition. If implemented rigorously, the treaty will transform the global arms trade by requiring states to put human rights and humanitarian law before profits when making arms trade decisions.“ 


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