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South Asian Federalists meet in Kathmandu

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by James Arputharaj

Members of South Asian Federalists (SAF) from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal participated in a regional conference May 17 – 18 in Kathmandu Nepal on “Promoting Universalization and Strengthening Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty in South Asia.”

The regional intergovernmental meeting was organized by the international ControlArms Coalition and Women for Peace and Democracy – Nepal. Discussion focused on challenges to ratifying or acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and assistance available to governments interested in becoming state parties. 94 of the world’s 193 states have ratified the treaty, which entered into force in December 2014. However only one South Asian state has signed the treaty.

The outcome document from this two-day civil society – government conference not only “identified the paramount need and rationale for countries in the South Asian region to ratify or accede to the ATT.” The need to promote campaigns for gun-free elections was highlighted, noting particularly that the incidence of gender based
violence with the use of illicit guns continues to hinder women from participating in politics.

The conference also determined a road map and strategy toward the universalization and strengthening efforts towards ratification of the ATT and its implementation. South Asian Federalists wasted little time getting started, meeting May 19 at the Hotel Malla in Kathmandu to discuss strategies for carrying forward the recommendations from the conference.

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