Permanent Ambassador to Ukraine
Amb. Chloe Lehnerz
Latin America Arms Trade Treaty (LAATT) 2019
Thank you, Secretary Rodriguez, for your oversight of this important treaty. Member States and fellow Ambassadors, we are here today to work towards a safer and more peaceful Latin American region. The small arms trade has clearly contributed to the mounting insecurity in the area and the humanitarian crisis. The rate of violent gun deaths in Latin American countries is anywhere from 20 to 40 per 100,000 people, compared to around 4 per 100,000 in the United States, and less than 1 per 100,000 in most developed countries. Many of these deaths are civilian—innocent people who are caught in the crossfire. The humanitarian situations in this region continue to worsen, as states see shortages of medicine, medical supplies, and food. Venezuelans have particularly suffered.
Ukraine gained independence from the dissolved Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, Ukraine has agreed to abide by treaties removing weapons of mass destruction from our territory. Independently, we have agreed to treaties such as the Arms Trade Treaty, which has begun to manage the illicit small arms trade market. Ukraine watched The Russian Federation invade and annex Crimea in 2014 without serious intervention from our allies. This act was devastating to our region and has made permanent divides. We do not want to see a similar situation happen in Latin America and Venezuela in particular. Russian positioning of delegates in the region is an act of aggression and demonstrates the imperial desires of the nation.
Ukraine supports the sovereignty of the nations of Latin America; however, this needs to come with control over illicit small arms trade. This includes compliance and verification regimes, enforcement of end-user certificates, agreements on levels of disarmament, and stricter import and export regulation. Latin American countries should be supported and encouraged towards these goals; however, their sovereignty must remain intact. Ukraine condemns the aggressive occupation of Latin American countries. It would be best to approach this issue supporting the compliance of this and previous small arms treaties, such as the ATT, and to leave imperialist interests out of the matter.
It is understood that the small arms trade market is a multi-billion-dollar industry that Ukraine benefits from. We take responsibility for our previous lack of transparency in arms exports and commit ourselves to increase our efforts to maintain a responsible export program. We encourage all export countries to take responsibility for their export programs, especially those lacking in the necessary transparency to implement successful negotiations. With this treaty, Ukraine hopes to establish regulation over the small arms trade in Latin America, with particular focus on the illicit trade market. The solutions will need to, in part, come about internally, and while member parties to this treaty should support disarmament efforts and ensure compliance and verification, imperialist intentions should not dominate this important conversation.