NZ pushes Fiji to join UN Arms Trade Treaty
New Zealand opposition MP Su'a William Sio is visiting Fiji this week to encourage its government to join the Arms Trade Treaty.
New Zealand opposition MP Su'a William Sio is visiting Fiji this week to encourage its government to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.
The United Nations Treaty aims to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons for the purpose of maintaining international and regional peace.
In the region, so far only Samoa, New Zealand and Australia have signed and ratified the treaty.
Indira Moala has more.
Labour's Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su'a William Sio is travelling around the region representing the Parliamentarians for Global Action group. He says it's important for Fiji to ratify the treaty because it could lead the way for the rest of the Pacific. Su'a says the decision would send out a strong message to the region and the world.
SU'A WILLIAM SIO: It is about sending a very strong signal to the countries that manufacture conventional weapons, that we want to regulate their movements, we want to monitor what they do for that. And it's about sending a clear signal that we in the pacific take a very strong position in maintaining peace and security for our region.
Su'a says signing and ratifying the treaty will also send a clear signal to other trading partners and aid donor countries.
SU'A WILLIAM SIO: That'll give confidence to those countries who have a vested interest in making sure that we in Fiji, that we in the Pacific, are able to work towards achieving our sustainable development goals.
FEMLINK PACIFIC executive director Sharon Bhagwan Rolls is urging all Pacific Island governments to join the Treaty. Ms Rolls says if Fiji ratifies the Treaty, it will clearly demonstrate its commitment to maintaining peace and security as a leader in the region.
SHARON BHAGWAN ROLLS: Because we have a history in our region and a very visible reminder of what the presence of guns has done and how they've fuelled military coups, mutinies, tribal and ethnic violence, arm conflicts and gun homicides. So as advocates of the UN Security Council resolution 1325, I think it's really critical that the Fiji government looks to sign or ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as a member of the Pacific community.
Mosese Bulitavu from the Sodelpa Party says the opposition has not made a decision yet on where they stand with the Treaty but he does believe it's important for Fiji to align with countries like New Zealand and Australia on the issue.
MOSESE BULITAVU: If countries like New Zealand and Australia in the region, if they are parties to the Treaty then Fiji should also consider it's position and try to ratify the treaty. It's all about peace and security and Fiji is a country in the South Pacific where most of the small island states look up to, needs to set an example.
Su'a says he experienced initial push-back from some countries in the region which he believes is mainly due to a lack of understanding of what the treaty is about.
SU'A WILLIAM SIO: It's about raising awareness and deepening their understanding about what the Treaty is about and the benefits it will be to Fiji as a whole if they do join up and ratify and work towards implementation of the Treaty.
Other Pacific Island states that have signed the Treaty but are yet to ratify it, include Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
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