The number of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) signatories from southern Africa grew as five new countries signed the Treaty as part of a high-level signing ceremony on 25 September at the UN in New York.
South Africa was one of the countries to sign that day, represented by its President, Mr. Jacob Zuma. South Africa has supported the development of the ATT, stating that it is an important international instrument that will “fill a conspicuous gap that existed in the global conventional arms control system”. The Arms Trade Treaty has taken an important step forward with South Africa’s inclusion in the club of countries committed to establishing and implementing common standards for the international trade of weapons and ammunition. It is not only an arms importer and but also a mid-level exporter of weapons and ammunition, with more than $20 million dollars in revenues from the export of small arms and ammunition.
Then Mr. Andry Rajoelina, the President of Madagascar also signed the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of his country on 25 September. Dr. Bob Mtonga, the Co-President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) declared that “Madagascar may be an island geographically, but it is a shining example of a nation that believes in global standards for global issues such as the transfer of conventional weapons. Today Madagascar has signed the ATT with the full belief that the ATT will make a true difference on the ground once it enters into force and gets implemented fully.”
Three other countries from southern Africa signed the Treaty that day: Zambia, Lesotho and Comoros.
Zambia, which shares borders with eight other countries, is often used as a transit point for the trade of illegal arms. Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wylbur Simuusa, who signed the ATT, explained that his country will be able to better control the flow of arms into the country from now on due to the new global standards for arms trade. “Illegal arms trade is a big business. This is the reason why most of the conflicts in the world can’t be managed because people have access to illegal arms. So we needed a global platform for countries to come together, hence the crafting of the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the sale of arms, ” he said and further noted that in the past, the Zambian police has struggled to stop the illegal transfer of weapons and ammunition originating from countries with a history of conflict and civil war. Therefore, the new standards created by the Treaty will reduce the illicit arms trade, making it easier for the Zambian police to monitor the transfer of illegal weapons through the country.