Nigeria on Monday become the first African country to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), with Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru saying the event represents the country’s deep commitment to a treaty which establishes common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.
Also praising Nigeria’s initiative, Control Arms’ spokesperson Anna Macdonald noted how, throughout the negotiations on the ATT, Nigeria was a leader for the African continent.
“We are proud of Nigeria’s leadership again today as Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru simultaneously signs and ratifies this first ever global agreement regulating the transfer of arms and ammunition,” she said.
She stressed that Africa has long suffered the impact of an arms trade that is out of control. “From Somalia to Mali to the DRC, weapons have been entering conflict zones and increasing the level of violence for decades. Other African countries must now step forward and follow Nigeria’s lead. The continent needs an Arms Trade Treaty that is in effect and implemented as soon as possible.”
Mr. Ashiru said Nigeria remained “resolute and unyielding” in her efforts to uphold the principle of ATT and, in particular, ensure that small arms and light weapons is appropriately transferred and access denied to terrorist groups, pirates, bandits and the like.
Ms. Macdonald expressed the view that with over 80 countries’ signatures and several ratifications since the treaty opened for signature, there is momentum to urgently ensure the ATT becomes international law and starts saving lives.
Fifty ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force, and she called on all states top get to work on their national legislation as soon as possible.
The treaty was open for signature and ratification at the United Nations in New York on June 3, and on that day, over 65 countries signed the landmark treaty, the objective of which is the regulation of the multibillion-dollar global arms trade.
The treaty is of great importance to Nigeria, which continues a fierce battle against Islamic militants in the northeast of the country. Only recently a security chief said that many state governors have started to import arms as the country prepares for major elections in 2015.