Minister for Defence Materiel, Dr Mike Kelly AM MP, today signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on behalf of the Australian Government at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The ATT will regulate the global trade in conventional weapons – from tanks, warships and combat aircraft, to assault rifles and their ammunition.
Dr Kelly, representing Foreign Minister Bob Carr, said Australia had long been committed to addressing the dire consequences of unregulated arms trading and he was proud Australia was amongst the first countries to sign the historic Treaty today.
“Australia co-authored this Treaty, and we have been at the forefront of efforts to secure it,” Dr Kelly said.
“It is time for global action on conventional arms control - each day there are around 2000 deaths in conflicts fuelled by illegally-traded weapons.
“These weapons, so many of which are cheap and readily available assault rifles including the AK-47, are the enablers of a catalogue of crimes, including against women and children.
“In terms of their humanitarian impact, these are weapons of mass destruction, with more than half a million people killed each year.”
Dr Kelly – a former Army Colonel who served in Iraq, East Timor, Bosnia and Somalia – said the proliferation of illegally-traded weapons was “a scourge upon the world’s most vulnerable communities”.
Adoption of the ATT, he said, was not an end in itself but a step along the way.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the international community and civil society and to building on our commitment today.”
Australia will provide $1million to a multilateral assistance fund to help developing countries implement the Treaty. The funds will support measures such as drafting national legislation, setting up export control arrangements and building expertise in enforcing arms controls.
The Treaty will be tabled in the Australian Parliament, for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties whose recommendation is necessary to ratify it.
An image is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20130239
Media Note: Dr Kelly will be available for phone interviews between 11:30am and 12:30pm AEST today 4 June 2013, please arrange with media contact below.
Dr Kelly's office: Robbie Rynehart (02) 6277 7730 or 0459 810 654