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Taiwan to keep close eye on UN arms trade treaty talks

Publication Date : 13-06-2012


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday it is paying close attention to talks on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) amid concern from scholars that the pact could make it difficult for the United States to sell weapons to Taiwan.

The government is aware of the proposed UN treaty and will keep an eye on any developments regarding it, Lily Hsu, head of the MOFA's Department of International Organisations, said at a news briefing yesterday.

“The ministry is looking into the matter and will ask its representative offices around the world to collect relevant information on other countries' stances on the treaty,” she said.

Hsu's comments come in light of a paper published by U.S. scholars last week which warned that if approved, the ATT would hinder Taiwan's rights to buy or import arms because it is not a UN member state.

The ATT is the name of a potential multilateral treaty that would regulate the international trade in conventional weapons.

The treaty is scheduled to be negotiated at a global conference from July 2-27 in UN Headquarters in New York.

The UN started to pay closer attention to arms trading in 2006, launching efforts in a bid to improve poor regulations and standards, and ensure weapons are transferred only for appropriate uses.

Scholars' warning

In a paper published on Friday in Washington, however, Heritage Foundation Research Fellows Ted Bromund and Dean Cheng said that because Taiwan is not a UN member state — and is not recognised by a majority of UN members — the ATT, once approved, would not recognise its right to buy or import arms.

They said that the ATT could offer Beijing an argument that the U.S. weapons sales or transfers to Taiwan would violate the terms of the treaty.

They urged US President Barack Obama not to sign the ATT, which may put Taiwan at risk from China's growing military prowess.

Providing Taiwan with defensive weapons is a long-standing policy of the US under its Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and Six Assurances.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, obliges the US to help Taiwan defend itself.

In 1982, then-US President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan the Six Assurances, which included a promise that the US would not set a date for the termination of arms sales to Taiwan.

Asked to comment, military spokesman Luo Shou-he yesterday reiterated Taipei's urge to Washington to abide by the TRA and to continue providing arms to Taiwan.


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