Barbados PM warns small arms could jeopardise economic future

Sunday, October 04, 2015

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UNITED NATIONS, New York (CMC) — Barbados Friday warned that its future socio-economic development could be stymied by the proliferation of small arms into the Caribbean.

Bridgetown said that it welcomed the 2013 United Nations adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons, with the expectation that it will contribute to the prevention and eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, addressing the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, said through the determined efforts of the countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and other
like-minded states, small arms and light weapons, and their ammunitions, parts and components, were included in the scope of the treaty.

He said Barbados ratified the treaty in May and in July participated in the Security Council's first-ever open debate on the particular peace and security challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS).

"At that meeting, Barbados indicated that it always has and continues strongly to oppose the proliferation and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons," Stuart said.

"However, for countries like Barbados, the real weapons of mass destruction are small arms and light weapons, and our focus is necessarily on the trade in these weapons, which often goes arm-in-arm with the traffic in illicit drugs and other organised crime," he added.

Stuart, who is also the chairman of the 15-member Caricom grouping, said both have the capacity to "seriously undermine our economies and destabilise our societies".

"Barbados welcomes the initiative and persistence that made possible the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, and commits to playing its part in addressing global peace and security challenges," he said.

The international community, he added, had adopted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which provides a series of bold measures to overhaul global finance practices and generate investments for tackling a range of economic, social, and environmental challenges.

It also adopted Agenda 2030, which formulates a new development agenda based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

He said the link between Agenda 2030 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is clear: the former sets out the goals and the latter the means of their attainment. One without the other is bereft of meaning.

But he said while the Caribbean welcomed these new initiatives, it felt that the United Nations and international financial institutions "must address the matter of graduation of Middle Income Countries, such as Barbados, from access to concessionary and grant-based financing".

"Now, we contend, is the time to develop and utilise appropriate measurements for development that go beyond a simplistic reliance on a country's gross domestic product per capita," he added.

In his address, Prime Minister Stuart said Barbados and other Caricom countries were looking forward to the outcome of the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in December.

"At that meeting, we will agree to collective action which will make possible the continued survival of our planet. This is an existential issue for all countries, but in particular, for those like mine that are Small Island Developing States," he said.

"Our countries stand on the edge of a yawning abyss opened up by climate change. For those who framed the Charter of this body, the cessation of global war was the single existential threat. While, undeniably, that threat remains, today it would be to our peril were we not to accord to climate change the same deadly capacity."

Stuart said that Caricom has already made known its views regarding the outcome of the conference, reiterating that "all parties commit to take individual and collective action to curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with our ambitious goal to hold global average temperature increase to well below 1.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels".

He said the region also wants all parties to commit to co-operate in taking these actions, subjecting themselves, in the process, to regular five-year cycles of reporting, verification and updating on mitigation commitments, and that all parties commit to support the particularly vulnerable countries that are SIDS and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

"In short, we need an ambitious, high-performance, legally binding agreement with global participation," he said, noting that the tragedy that struck Dominica, as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Erika last month, "highlights the urgency of an effective global response to climate change".

"As we have often seen, a single natural or man-made disaster in a small island catastrophic economic, infrastructural and developing state can have humanitarian effects on a national scale, and it has been estimated that the damage caused by Erika set back Dominica's development by 20 years," Stuart said.

He said as Caricom chairman he was taking the opportunity "to express the region's unwavering solidarity with and commitment to our brothers and sisters in Dominica and call on the international community to continue to help Dominica in this its hour of need".


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