Friday, July 23, 2010

Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt? Thoughts on the first PrepCom for an Arms Trade Treaty

First the good news. It looks as if there will indeed be an Arms Trade Treaty and that the treaty may even be adopted at the Diplomatic Conference foreseen for 2012. Neither of these two possibilities looked anywhere near as likely prior to this first PrepCom.

The greater unknown is what precisely the treaty will regulate and how far it will prevent illicit transfers or the diversion of conventional weapons as well as 'licit' transfers of weapons that are subsequently used for unlawful purposes. Certainly, if an ATT endorses the status quo it will not only prove a failure, it will take us backwards, for there is almost universal agreement that the current situation is fuelling a myriad of conflicts, abusive violence, and societal misery.

Let us hope that the positive words and warm fuzzy feeling that enveloped many at the closing session of the prepcom is ultimately converted into effective action. For it is always to be feared, in the words of the late Will Rogers, that diplomacy is "the art of saying 'nice doggie' while looking for a rock."

Thanks to everyone for following our blog on the prepcom; we hope it has been useful. We will update it periodically with new information in the period leading up to the second prepcom in late February 2011. Hasta luego.

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