Press release

Seychelles Signs Treaty to Regulate Arms Trade

June 4, 2013

Seychelles has continued to demonstrate leadership in the regional and international arenas by being amongst the first countries to sign the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which opened for signature at the United Nations in New York on the 3rd of June, 2013.

“As a country which champions the issues of international peace and security, Seychelles’ signing of the treaty signals continued commitment to maintaining the rule of law, and promoting humanitarian law and human rights values regionally and globally. It is also a concrete step in Seychelles’ bid for the non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, as it consolidates Seychelles’ zero tolerance stance towards terrorism and maritime piracy,” said Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter, Seychelles’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, who said on behalf of the Government.

During her intervention at a special event held to mark the opening of the treaty for signatories, the Ambassador shared the struggle Seychelles has faced in combating Somali pirates armed with illegal weapons

“Who would have thought that bandits roaming the high seas in small skiffs, could pose a security threat to one of the world’s principal maritime routes by high jacking huge vessels and taking hostages innocent crews with the use of small arms acquired through illicit means and ending up in the wrong hands…The consequences of piracy on our peace loving people has only served to strengthen our resolve and determination to play a greater role in peace building initiatives not only on our beautiful and  promising continent of Africa but internationally.”

The treaty, the first of its kind aimed at regulating the global trade in conventional arms which is estimated at around $60 billion a year, was adopted by the United Nations on the 2nd of April, 2013. Seychelles was amongst the 155 countries which voted in overwhelming support for the adoption; Iran, Syria and North Korea were the only three States to oppose the adoption.

The treaty, whilst recognizing the legitimate political, security, economic and commercial interests of States in the trade of conventional arms, stresses the need for the highest possible standards in monitoring and regulating the movement of arms to reduce human suffering; an estimated 2000 people are killed by arms on a daily basis.

In recognizing the humanitarian effects of the trade in arms, Seychelles welcomes the treaty’s prohibition in exporting arms to a country if the weapons will be used to commit genocide, a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, or be in violating of a UN arms embargo.  As a keen supporter of the empowerment of women, Seychelles is also pleased to see that the risk of gender-based violence is recognized as a basis which exporting countries need to consider before transferring arms.

The treaty also provides for opportunities for cooperation with other countries to implement their obligations under the treaty, which Seychelles is working on securing.

The treaty will take effect after 50 countries ratify it, a process that is expected to take around two years. The Government of Seychelles is actively working towards a swift ratification and domestication process for the treaty.