Senate adopts legislation to curb illicit arms trade
Bill C-47 allows Canada to join an international arms treaty.
Legislation that would allow Canada to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the first international agreement to establish global standards to help stop the illicit transfer of conventional arms, has been adopted in the Senate.
Bill C-47 makes changes to Canada’s export and import control regime so that it can join the treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.
“The evidence is clear: irresponsible, unregulated arms transfers are intensifying and prolonging conflicts that claim many victims, contribute to regional instability, facilitate human rights abuses and hinder social and economic development,” said Senator Raymonde Saint-Germain, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
In addition to curbing the illicit trade of arms, the legislation also encourages countries with weak controls to strengthen their systems and helps stop illegal arms shipments to conflict regions, Saint-Germain said.
Specifically, the treaty requires that signatories assess how the trade of arms or ammunition could potentially undermine peace and security, contribute to terrorism and organized crime, and risk serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws. The treaty also regulates the international brokering of arms.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland told a Senate committee during study of the legislation that Canada was “long overdue” to join the treaty, which has been signed or ratified by other NATO and G7 countries.
She detailed that the legislation includes a clause that prevents the current and future governments from granting a permit to export arms in cases that include a substantial risk of human rights abuses.
“This is a significant decision. It will mean changes in how Canada regulates selling weapons. This is the right thing to do. Canadians fundamentally care about human rights, and Canadians are right to expect that exports are not used to commit human rights violations,” she said.