Hon Judi Moylan

PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS - International Arms Trade Treaty

Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (10:24): Yes, I second the motion. I am appreciative of the opportunity to speak on this important motion and I thank the member for Fremantle for bringing it to the attention of this parliament today. Each day the scourge of war directly affects millions across the globe. Countless more continue to suffer the indirect effects, decades after conflicts subside, through human rights abuses, poverty and human trafficking. Weapons are more easily finding their way into the hands of non-state actors, fuelling decades-long conflicts and creating new ones. The toll on civilians continues to rise with each passing year, and women and children are disproportionally affected as existing inequities are magnified and they are exposed to sexual violence and exploitation.

Whilst the causes of each conflict are complex, there is a simple truth: wars require weapons. Limiting the flow of arms into conflict regions would help stem violence. But, unfortunately, arms easily find their way though because the trade has very little regulation. In fact, regulations applying to bananas are greater than those applying to the global arms trade.

To remedy this situation, from 2 to 27 July, the United Nations will host discussions for a global arms trade treaty. The treaty is the culmination of six years of investigation and has involved extensive consultations with countries and non-governmental organisations. I am also pleased to say that the treaty has had strong bipartisan support though successive Australian governments.

The arms trade treaty is intended to outlaw the transfer of arms if there is a substantial risk they could be used in breaching international humanitarian law, be diverted from the legitimately intended recipient, affect regional security or be used by terrorist networks. A revolutionary and welcome aspect of this agreement is its broad scope; covering all weapons, transfer types and transactions. That means any weapon, from helicopter gunships to handguns, will be covered. Transfer types will include import, export, temporary transfer, state sanctioned, commercial transactions, technology transfer, plus so-called gifts and aid; and transactions will also cover brokers and dealers, whether state-sponsored or not.

While there is strong support for the treaty in general, Amnesty International is urging parliamentarians across the world to show their support and ensure that the substance of the treaty is not watered down during the upcoming negotiation process, as so often happens. Last week the Parliamentary Friends of Amnesty was privileged to host Widney Brown, Amnesty International Global Director of International Law and Policy, who outlined the status of the negotiations and the issues still to be resolved. Of particular concern are calls to remove ammunition and technology transfer from the treaty. Some countries have objected to ammunition on the basis that it is too hard to track. But it was pointed out that Australia already has a system tracking its ammunition, and there is no reason why other countries could not adopt a similar process.

The restriction on technology transfer ensures that a more recent and disturbing trend is stamped out. It has come to the attention of Amnesty that in order to bypass arms embargoes, weapons factories are being built in conflict regions. Such factories intensify conflict though easy access to arms, destabilise regions and place even more women and children in danger. The process should be stopped and must certainly remain an area regulated by this treaty.

In conclusion, I would urge all members of this place to sign the Global Parliamentarian Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty. Once again, I would like to thank Widney Brown and Amnesty for their continued advocacy on this important treaty, and thank the member for Fremantle for moving this motion in this place today.

Debate adjourned.


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