Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 3 of the PrepCom

The Chairman's Draft Elements of an ATT

The Chair opened the third morning of the PrepCom by introducing briefly his "draft elements" for a future Arms Trade Treaty. The Chair listed the elements that could be included.
The bloggers' view: Possibly surprising omissions from the Chair's list of draft elements were the following:
  1. Definitions (likely to be an extremely challenging exercise) 
  2. Scope of application of the treaty (in addition to the type of weapons and types of activities and covered, which were included in the Chair's draft)  
  3. Relations with States not party to the treaty, and 
  4. Specific reference to meetings of States Parties and review  of the conferences (though these may be intended to fall within the proposed inclusion in final provisions of follow-up mechanisms and review processes).
In addition, the Chair's draft elements suggested that there would be a separate reference to goals and objectives of the treaty, as opposed to including them in the preamble as most delegations had called for.

Government statements to the third morning of the PrepCom

The bloggers' view of the morning's interventions: Many forward-looking statements were made during the third morning of the PrepCom, and a wide--though by no means universal--convergence was seen in the majority of the interventions. Encouragingly, several interventions referred to the responsibility of States to regulate the arms trade in order to address serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and armed violence. Other highlights included Mexico's call for a provision on compulsory universal jurisdiction (known as aut dedere aut judicare under international law) to be included in the ATT as well as the Holy See's call for the rights of victims to be included.

Egypt on behalf of the Group of Arab States welcomed "any efforts made with regard to the regulation of armaments and the trade of arms". It cautioned, however, that an ATT "must take into account the elements of production and stockpiling, along with the export, import and transfer." It stated that the "potential ATT has to be based on and not to conflict with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including the legitimate right of States to the production, export and import of conventional arms, the right to self-determination, the inadmissibility of the occupation of others' territories, the respect for State's sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use of armed forces against unarmed civilians, etc."

Belgium on behalf of the European Union set out the principles that it would like to see reflected in the ATT. The aim was to prevent the illicit transfer of arms and "should prevent conventional weapons from being used to contribute to armed conflicts, trans-national organized crime, terrorist acts, serious human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law". In addition, an ATT "should respect the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law".

Australia stated that the preamble should include the context for the negotiation and adoption of an ATT, including the interest of all States in preventing irresponsible or illicit transfer of arms.

Norway stated its view that the responsibility of States to reduce human suffering underpins an ATT. The treaty should prevent arms transfers that are used to violate international human rights law and international humanitarian law and armed violence.

South Africa stated its preference for including the guiding principles in the preamble. It supported the principles as outlined by Belgium on behalf of the EU.

The Philippines stated that the treaty must respect the right to self-defence, the principle of non-interference, territorial integrity, and take into account the special responsibility of the supplying State. It should prevent transfers to non-State actors. It did not want to see dual-use goods included in the treaty.

Japan wanted the preamble to highlight how the lack of agreed common standards for the transfer of conventional arms contributed to armed conflict, terrorism, and organised crime. States have a responsibility to ensure that arms they transfer do not contribute to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Arms should not be diverted to unauthorised recipients.

Canada believes that an ATT should be based on transparency, clarity, and universality. It should build on existing obligations of States under international law. It should offer clear rules for the trade in conventional weapons. The treaty should be implemented and enforced at a national level.

Senegal stated the importance of taking into account international human rights and humanitarian law as well as the impact of the arms trade on economic development.

Portugal declared that an ATT would be an important tool in addressing the illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Brazil stated the lack of commonly agreed standards on the arms trade was a factor in armed conflict, terrorism, and organised crime.

Mexico referred to the principle of the shared responsibility of States to meet the aims of the treaty. They also noted that the ATT should include a provision on compulsory universal jurisdiction.

Sweden supported the statement delivered by Belgium on behalf of the EU. It added that an important element was the determination of common standards for the assessment of whether to authorise a transfer of conventional weapons. These should be the highest possible standards. Sweden also sought a reference to the risk of corruption from the arms trade.

Iran stated that a potential ATT should be based on the principles on the use of force, the right to self-defence, non-interference in internal affairs, full respect for the sovereign right of States.

The Netherlands reiterated the importance of making clear what the ATT is trying to achieve: to set out clear criteria for authorising conventional arms transfers.

The Holy See noted the importance of transparency in the arms trade. It called for the treaty to cover the rights of victims of armed violence and support their rehabilitation and reintegration. 

Germany noted that the ATT would seek to regulate arms transfers, it was not a disarmament treaty.

Pakistan called for "subjective criteria" to be avoided in the ATT. Transfer between two States not subject to an UN embargo should not be covered by the ATT. It should not impact production by developing countries. Should major producers follow a certain standard to curb excessive production of weapons? How much is enough? 

The United Kingdom stated that the three UN General Assembly resolutions set out the principles underpinning the ATT. The UK did not favour picking out certain aspects of the UN Charter: "The Charter is the Charter and we are all bound by it." The ATT should not establish new embargoes on the transfer of weapons. (The UK subsequently clarified further its statement on including references to specific elements of the UN Charter, mentioning its flexibility).

The USA stated that he hoped for a treaty that would be both effective and "widely adopted if not immediately universal." It referred to the responsibility of both the supplier and recipient to control transfers of arms so that they are used "for appropriate purposes".

Israel objected to a reference to the right of all peoples to self-determination on the basis that it might legitimate transfers to terrorists.

Egypt noted the link between principles and scope. It objected to Israel's opposition to a reference to the right of all peoples to self-determination.

Indonesia noted the importance of protecting human rights as well as maintaining territorial integrity.

The Republic of Korea approved of the Chair's paper on draft elements. Korea fully supported a strong ATT.

The Russian Federation stated the need for the treaty to counter the illicit trade in weapons.

ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) stated that arms transfers should not be made to non-State actors without the express authority of the State in which they are located. It should lay down sanctions for violations.

India called for the treaty not to affect in any way the right of States to produce or acquire conventional weapons for its defence.

China stated that the goal of the ATT was maintenance of international peace and security, and the ability to maintain territorial integrity.

Side Event: A Practical Guide to Implementing a Future ATT

The publication, National Implementation of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide, has been developed by C.I.T.S. at the University of Georgia in the US, Oxfam, and Saferworld. The side event was supported by The Netherlands.

Saferworld stressed the primacy that the ATT will give to national implementation of its provisions. It was emphasised that there will not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Anne-Charlotte Merrell Wetterwik of the CITS affirmed that a national implementation system should comprise three basic components: a licensing system, enforcement mechanisms and provisions, and external outreach to industry and international partners.

Paul Pasnicu, the General Director of the the National Agency for Export Controls, of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that a functioning export control mechanism was a process not an act. He stressed the importance of regulating small arms transfers.

Government statements to the third afternoon of the PrepCom

Surinam on behalf of CARICOM stated that the Caribbean region had been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the availability of weapons. It called for the highest possible standards for the transfer of arms. It should also enshrine the principle of State responsibility that arms not be diverted from their intended recipients.

Trinidad and Tobago called for States that violated a future ATT should be subject to sanctions.

The Chair then presented his paper on "draft elements" of an ATT. He acknowledged that certain elements that had been raised by delegations were missing, such as the UK proposal for general obligations. He also noted several issues that he did not know "where to put": the diversion of arms as well as other issues related to the illicit arms trade; India's reference to organized crime and terrorism; corruption; and victim assistance raised by Norway.

India noted the difficulty of the task facing the Chair. He suggested that the various issues raised orally by the Chair but not yet included should be listed as "other elements" in the next version of his paper.

Pakistan felt the "table of contents" presented by the Chair was perhaps a little "premature" but wanted to see all suggestions reflected.

Mexico stated that the issue of diversion was a matter of particular concern to many delegations. Another important issue was marking and tracking of weapons. It also noted the importance of victim assistance.

Egypt felt that the more the issues were discussed, the more complex they became. It hoped that the paper would not prejudge the structure of a future treaty. Egypt wanted to see rights as well as obligations included in the treaty. It noted goals and objectives was separated from the preamble. It further wished to see consultation and clarification in the treaty, especially with a view to preventing discrimination. It wanted to see sanctions for treaty violations. National focal points could be given more prominence. Finally, incentives to encourage adherence could be useful. It stressed that the treaty should not just be supply based but also outline the rights and obligations of recipients.

Tanzania called for regional and sub-regional organisations to be involved in the monitoring of the future treaty.

The UK said it was good to be able to agree with Pakistan "as it didn't happen very often these days".

South Africa stated that combating crime, terrorism, and conflict were the key issues underpinning the ATT.

France referred to the need for including a provision on scope of application. France felt that national legislation and controls, criminalisation of violations, and cooperation and assistance would be the three pillars of the future treaty. It questioned the need for an implementation support secretariat.

The Russian Federation reiterated the importance of addressing diversion in the treaty.

Norway noted the need to include under scope both ammunition and related technologies in addition to weapons. It reiterated its call for vicim assistance to be included. It wanted to see greater detail relating to criteria.

New Zealand called for other issues to be added to the paper, such as the relationship with other agreements.

Australia also commended the Chair for his paper. It hoped to see clarification as to whether transshipment and brokering would be covered. It also wanted clarification of the relations between States Parties and States non party.

Uruguay wanted a chapter on definitions to be added. It called for record keeping to be addressed under the issue of transparency. It also supported other calls for a provision on victim assistance.

Iran also wanted definition of key terms included in the treaty. It wanted a separate provision on principles, not being convinced that their inclusion in the preamble was appropriate. It wanted the issue of criminalisation of violations deleted. It also wanted the deletion of any reference to an international secretariat.

Belgium on behalf of the European Union also commended the paper. It will respond in detail, possibly in writing, the following morning.

Trinidad and Tobago also stressed the importance of diversion. It agreed with New Zealand on the need for specific reference to meetings of States Parties.

The USA called for headings on definitions, relationship with other agreements, and an annex. It expressed concern about a number of issues included in the Chair's list, such as a secretariat, dispute settlement, denunciation, denials, and enforcement.

Spain favoured a short, simple declaration of the object and purpose of the treaty.

Morocco stated that international cooperation and assistance was essential. It wanted references to corruption and money laundering. It wanted specific reference to non-State actors.

Syria noted the importance of Article 51 of the UN Charter and stated that the ATT should not discriminate and should not be politicised.

The Republic of Korea supported the paper and stressed the importance of international cooperation and assistance. It also called for further details of the common standards/criteria for transfer.

Indonesia thought that if reporting is included in the treaty then there should be a secretariat also.  It suggested victim assistance be included in the section on international cooperation and assistance.

Ghana wanted the right of victims to an effective remedy to be included.

The Netherlands thought that at this stage it was premature to define the content of the draft elements. It wanted a mention that the definition of weapons should be flexible in view of the technology development. In this regard, it noted that the review process could also be held every year (in the discussion reference was made to five- and 10-year intervals).

China had a specific proposal on the structure, suggesting that monitoring, verification and compliance be merged into the heading on implementation and application.

The UAE wanted separation of the concepts of international assistance and capacity-building.

Pakistan issued a general note of caution about the paper.

In closing day three of the PrepCom, the Chair issued his paper on draft principles for discussion tomorrow and announced the appointment of three Friends of the Chair to consult with delegations on three key issues: on scope, Trinidad and Tobago; on standards and criteria, Australia; and on application and implementation, Egypt. It appears these meetings will be closed, beginning on the fourth afternoon of the PrepCom, so NGOs will not be able to attend.


  1. great job you guys! thanks so much for the posts!

  2. I thought Scope was covered by South Africa...