Wide view of the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/Manuel Elias (Representational Image)
Palau has now become 101st State Party to ratify Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on 8th of April.
The treaty will enter into force on 7th of July this year.
Palau has been a signatory of the treaty since 2013. According to Special Assistant to the Vice President Keiden Kintol, Palau signed the treaty as a State Party in December last year after House of Delegates and House of Senate agreed on the need of ATT in December last year.
The United Nations document on ATT states that the objective of ATT is to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion.
The purpose of ATT is to contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability; reduce human suffering.
It also aims to promote cooperation, transparency and responsible action by State Parties in the international trade in conventional arms.
Kintol said, “ATT is about trying to stop trading of weapons to countries where there is suffering due to weapons and nuclear weapons.”
Palau is the 5th country in Oceania to have ratified ATT and Australia was the 1st. It was then ratified by Samoa, New Zealand and Tuvalu.
Kintol further said, “Palau’s constitution specifically states that nuclear weapons are prohibited. No one can have weapons and only police officers are allowed to have weapons.”
He added, “With ATT being ratified, it will solidify our constitution.”
ATT gives Palau the power to board the ship that pass through the innocent passage and inspect the ship for any illegal activity.
Without ATT the Marine Law Officers cannot board the ships that pass through the innocent passage but the ratification of ATT empowers Palau to do so.
Under international law an ‘innocent passage’ is the route taken by the ships with an intention of going to a different destination but crosses the territorial waters of another State.
According to Kintol, in a scenario where Palauan authorities find anything on the ship that can jeopardize the current treaties Palau has signed; the Palauan authorities can take necessary action.
The difference between innocent passage ships and ships involved in illegal fishing can identified by Vessel Monitoring System based on the movements of the ship.
“If the ship is going straight, that’s innocent passage. When there see movements of the ship in zig-zag that shows some kind of illegal activity.” Kintol said. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)