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Foreign Affairs and You
Welcome to Foreign Affairs and You. This segment seeks to educate
the citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago about the Arms Trade
Treaty ("ATT" or "Treaty") and Trinidad and Tobago's bid to host the Arms
Trade Treaty Secretariat.
What is the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty ?
The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty is a multilateral treaty which
established common international standards for the movement across
borders of conventional arms and ammunition. Treaty imposes an obli-
gation on States Parties involved in the transfer of conventional arms to
take measures to prevent the diversion of these arms, including small
arms and light weapons to the illicit market.
When was the Arms Trade Treaty adopted?
As Lead Negotiator for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Trinidad
and Tobago championed the adoption of a strong and robust ATT during
the negotiations. It is accepted in the international community that the
work of CARICOM during the negotiations contributed in no small meas-
ure to the ultimate success which was achieved when the ATT was
adopted at the United Nations Headquarters, New York on 2nd April,
2013. That diplomatic success was the fruit of regional commitment and
To date, 130 States have signed the ATT, including all CARICOM
Members. Seventy-two(72) States have ratified the Treaty thereby
expressing their consent to be legally bound by its provisions.
The adoption of the Treaty marked a significant achievement for the
international community including civil society, as it was the product of a
commendable display of flexibility and compromise among the negotiating
States over a three-year period.
When did Trinidad and Tobago sign the Arms Trade Treaty?
On 3rd June 2013, the Honourable Winston Dookeran, Minister of
Foreign Affairs signed the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of the Republic
of Trinidad and Tobago.
When did Trinidad and Tobago deposit its Instrument of
Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty?
The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago deposited the Instrument of Ratification
on behalf of this country on 25th September, 2013. This took place during
the High-Level Treaty event on the margins of the 67th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly.
With this act of depositing its Instrument of Ratification, Trinidad and
Tobago formally expressed its consent to be bound by the provisions of
the Arms Trade Treaty and contributed towards the 50 ratifications
required for its entry into force.
When did the Arms Trade Treaty enter into force?
The ATT entered into force on 24th December 2014.
The entry into force of the ATT means that international arms transfers
must comply with a set of provisions to reduce human suffering caused
by irresponsible and unregulated trade. These provisions, among other
things, make it illegal to transfer weapons if there is a risk that they will
be used to violate international human rights law or international
humanitarian law, including due to acts of gender-based violence.
Why should Trinidad and Tobago host the Seat of the
Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat?
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is confident that Port of Spain
possesses all the attributes for the location of the Secretariat of the ATT
which, as emphasised in Article 18, paragraph 1, is intended to "...assist
States Parties in the effective implementation of this Treaty" when
• Potential to constitute a positive force for the achievement of the
overall objectives of the ATT, including universality, eradicating the
illicit trade in conventional arms, preventing diversion and promoting
cooperation, transparency and responsible action by States Parties
in the international trade in conventional arms;
• Siting the Secretariat in Trinidad and Tobago contributes to adherence
to the principle of equitable geographic distribution in the location of
international organisations and will reflect the new geopolitical
diversity of our globe;
• Cost effectiveness of the location;
• Suitability of the legal infrastructure for the operations of the
• Adequacy of physical facilities and transport linkages for the
operations of the Secretariat;
• Trinidad and Tobago's pioneering, principled and steadfast
advocacy for an effective and independent Secretariat; and
• The central role played by Trinidad and Tobago as a leading
advocate for the conclusion of a robust and effective ATT.
Benefits of the Arms Trade Treaty to citizens of
Trinidad and Tobago
An effective Treaty will assist the relevant authorities in Trinidad and
Tobago to establish controls to regulate trade in conventional arms and
ammunition. This will contribute to the reduction in the transfer of illegal
small arms, light weapons and homicides with firearms.
Which other countries are bidding to host the ATT Secretariat?
Austria and Switzerland are also bidding to host the ATT Secretariat.
Every day millions of people suffer from the direct and indirect consequences
of the irresponsible arms trade. A strong, effective and legally binding ATT
is necessary to curb such transfers and, in so doing, to help save lives,
prevent serious violations of international human rights law and international
humanitarian law, and protect the socio-economic well-being of people
around the world.
The Arms Trade Treaty has the potential to be among one of the most sig-
nificant treaties adopted at the United Nations in this century. Trinidad and
Tobago is convinced that a strong, effective and independent Secretariat
is a critical prerequisite to achieving the objectives of the Treaty.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is, therefore,
prepared to associate with like-minded States in order to give life to the
legal instrument that is the Arms Trade Treaty, through the establishment
and equipping of a well-resourced Secretariat in Port of Spain.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
International Waterfront Complex
1A Wrightson Road
Port of Spain
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