The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday approved the historic Arms Trade treaty with an overwhelming majority even as India, along with 22 other countries, abstained from voting. The pact, which seeks to regulate the global weapons trade, was approved by 154 countries in the 193-member General Assembly.
Iran, Syria and Communist North Korea were the only countries to vote against the treaty.
Explaining New Delhi’s stand, head of the Indian delegation Sujatha Mehta reiterated the ATT “was weak on terrorism and non-state actors and these concerns find no mention in its specific prohibitions”.
According to her, India “cannot accept that the treaty be used as an instrument by the exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states/ parties without consequences”.
Further, Mehta said that the principle underlying New Delhi’s participation in the negotiations on the draft treaty was that member states have a legitimate right to self-defence and hence there was no conflict between the pursuit of national security objectives and the aspiration that the Arms Trade Treaty should be strong, balanced and effective. Moreover, India will make a thorough assessment of the defence, security and foreign policy interests, adding New Delhi “at this stage is not in a position to endorse the text”. “Therefore, India has abstained (from voting) on the resolution…,” she added. Besides India, the other abstentions included Russia, China, Indonesia, Sudan and Ecuador.
New Delhi had raised its objections when the UN conference had failed to reach a consensus on the draft text after it was rejected by Tehran, Damascus and Pyongyang last week. It was then introduced before the UNGA by a group of nations for a vote on Tuesday.
Last year, the negotiations on the treaty had broken down after the US buckled under pressure from its domestic gun lobby in a Presidential election year.