Statement by Ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba, at the second session of the preparatory committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty: Criteria and Parameters of the Future Arms Trade Treaty. New York, 1 March 2011.
First and foremost, I would like to reiterate that, as we expressed yesterday, Cuba believes the Criteria and Parameters of the Future Arms Trade Treaty are closely related to the rest of the Treaty’s provisions. Therefore, it is very difficult to reach separate conclusions on the issue of Criteria and Parameters. We hope that we may be able to review, in a timely manner, the various aspects of the Treaty in their actual interaction.
This way, our final position on the Criteria and Parameters will ultimately depend on how the rest of the Treaty’s provisions are reflected.
The principled position of Cuba is clear. All the Treaty’s provisions, including those related to Criteria and Parameters, must fully respect the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Treaty cannot be selective or discriminatory, or based on monitoring subjective criteria or parameters, which can be manipulated in order to promote certain political and security agendas or economic interests. I cannot affect either the right of self-defense enshrined in the UN Charter, including the right of States to acquire weapons necessary to guarantee their national security.
For the future Treaty to be acceptable, it must contain accurate and clearly defined Criteria and Parameters, so that certain States cannot retaliate against others with different policies or positions.
Now, I would like to make some initial comments on your proposed Parameters and Criteria, contained in the informal document distributed a few days ago.
Concerning section A, about International Obligations of a State, we consider it would be redundant to include the obligations proposed as Parameters of the future Arms Trade Treaty.
The respect for the measures agreed on by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter, including arms embargoes, is an obligation all Member States already have, as provided by the UN Charter. This obligation exists, regardless of whether it appears as Parameter or not in the Treaty.
Moreover, States could have different interpretations, depending on whether they decide to become parties or not to the future Arms Trade Treaty.
Assuming such instrument is adopted, would not a State that is not party to the future Treaty have the same obligation to comply with the provisions of the Charter as a State that has decided to become a party to it?
The answer is obvious, and we go back to our initial point that the obligations under the Charter go beyond their inclusion or not in certain Treaty, and that redundancy in this case may entail more damage than benefits.
As to section B, indicating certain scenarios where a State must ban arms transfers to another State, I must clearly say that none of the three proposals included in this section is acceptable to Cuba.
The criteria proposed in section B do not meet the minimum requirements of objectivity, transparency, clarity, predictability and non-manipulable character any criterion or parameter must satisfy, for it to be included in the Treaty.
Who determines – and how- that an arms transfer would undermine peace and security or aggravate instability in certain region or country, and how is this determined? Must this assessment be made unilaterally or internationally?
Who determines – and how - when an excessive accumulation of weapons stockpiles is taking place? Does this concept include major arms producers, who are the ones with the largest stockpiles?
Who determines – and how – that serious human rights violations have been committed? As everyone knows, this issue has been and is continuously politicized.
Who determines – and how - the legitimate security needs of a State? How can making arms transfers conditional on poverty reduction and socio-economic development be measured?
These are, Mr. Chairman, just some examples of the important questions giving rise to the proposals contained in section B, and motivating our objections to them.
Regarding section C, we likewise note various ambiguities that must be duly addressed. Just to mention an example, reference is made to the concept of “Persistent Corruption”, which is vague, inaccurate, and can be easily manipulated.
We consider important the inclusion in the Parameters of the future Treaty of the prohibition of arms transfers to non-state actors, about which nothing is said in the distributed documents.
With respect to Article II of your document, we oppose the recognition of sources of information, other than those of States part of the transaction. Therefore, Cuba objects to the proposals contained in numerals 2 to 4 of this article.
The information provided voluntarily by the States involved in the transfer must be the basis of the information flow in the future Treaty. That instrument must not establish information procedures that could endanger the national security of States.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, we wish to suggest that arms transfer guidelines adopted by consensus by the United Nations Commission on Disarmament are duly taken into account. These guidelines can constitute a useful referent, and deserve to be thoroughly reviewed, in order to determine those elements that could be included as Parameters or Criteria of a future Arms Trade Treaty.