Over half the countries in the Pacific region have now signed the Arms Trade Treaty during a high-level event that took place on September 25th, at the UN General Assembly, where Kiribati, Nauru and Samoa, following the example of neighbouring island-states, became a part of the ATT.
The Honorable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, signed the treaty on behalf of his country during a ATT high-level meeting on September 25th. Two days later, in his statement during the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, he declared:
“…for small island countries like Samoa, it only takes a few small arms and light weapons in the wrong hands, to cause instability. Indeed within our own Pacific region, these so called small arms have fuelled conflicts and disrupted the lives of communities and impeded development of countries.”
Furthermore, he reaffirmed the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty by stating:
“When fully implemented [it] will greatly assist the efforts of small island states like mine in sustaining the security and stability of our communities. Our signing the ATT is also further testimony to our firm commitment to general and complete disarmament, as it will contribute significantly to saving lives, stop human rights abuses, avoid crises and is an important step to reduce and eventually eliminate altogether, the human cost of conventional arms.”
Samoa, together with Nauru and Kiribati brought the number of signatory countries from the Pacific to eight, by joining Palau, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, New Zealand and Australia, a clear indicative of the importance the treaty has in this region. Ben Murphy, Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator with Oxfam Australia and Chair of Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG), explains the positive implications of the ATT for these new members:
“As long as arms control standards in the region lag behind the rest of the world, the Pacific, which has suffered its own share of armed violence, remains an easy target for unscrupulous arms dealers. By signing the Arms Trade Treaty, Samoa, Nauru and Kiribati have made a critical step forward in saying enough is enough.”