Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 2 of the Second PrepCom - Criteria/Parameters

Overview of the day's discussions

On Day Two very broad differences were evident between the majority of delegations and a significant minority during the discussion on criteria/parameters (i.e. the basis on which a State must or should deny a request for an arms transfer from another State). 

(c) Jesper Waldersten
Many delegations supported Ambassador Moritan's paper as a basis for discussion. Several States (e.g. Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Switzerland, UK) as well as the ICRC did, though, point out the potentially fatal drafting flaws in the chapeau paragraph that introduced the various criteria in his "non-paper". They called for the deletion or strengthening of the offending text, which called only on States to "take into consideration, as appropriate" the criteria set out in the rest of the proposal. This could imply that the criteria were not legally binding. (For an analysis of the Chair's draft on Criteria/Parameters, see the following post on this blog: Informal Draft Paper on Criteria/Parameters by the Chair of the Preparatory Committee for an ATT.)

In contrast, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and the Russian Federation sought deletion of criteria relating to international human rights and humanitarian law, to development, and to corruption on the basis that such criteria are subjective. These States clearly remain to be persuaded of the merits of an ATT.

Many States called for a prohibition on transfers to non-State armed groups (NSAGs), including Brazil, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Iran, and the Russian Federation.

Delegations' statements

Iran stressed the need for a realistic approach to the ATT. It was only in favour of the inclusion of the 7 categories under the UN register. It further called for missiles not to be covered by the ATT while proposing adding a new category of electromagnetic weapons (some of these weapons can be used to destroy incoming missiles). 

Hungary (on behalf of the EU) noted that the introductory paragraph needed stronger language. It supported many of the criteria included in the Chair's paper, notably compliance with UNSC decisions on arms embargoes/IHL, and International Human Rights Law, intra-State conflict, and the risk of corruption. It stated that lack of compliance with any criteria should result in the automatic denial of the proposed transfer.

Bangladesh claimed that Article 51 of the UN Charter provided a legal basis for a right to the acquisition of arms. However, it also called for a broad range of transactions and weapons to be covered by the treaty, and noted that capacity-building needs, cross-border monitoring and treaty implementation all needed to be included in the treaty. It called for a prohibition on handing over weapons to non-State armed groups (NSAGs).

Brazil also called for no "unauthorised" internal transfers to NSAGs. It also called for strengthening of the criteria, claiming that the proposals on development and corruption were too vague.

Liechtenstein supported the inclusive approach adopted by the Chair, while noting that no single delegation had a right to a veto.

Burkina Faso stated that any proposed transfers that fell foul of the criteria should be denied.

UK stated that the eight criteria as a basis for the risk assessment are a good basis for discussion. They proposed amendments to the introductory sentence for the criteria, calling for the replacement of the text with “State shall apply the following criteria”.

Ecuador also suggested that the criteria should include the violation of territorial integrity. It was concerned that certain criteria were too subjective, especially those relating to development, which it thought should be deleted.

China stated that the criteria used must be objective, pragmatic, balanced, and practical, and claimed that the criteria of transfer fell within the prerogative of States. On the issue of human rights and IHL, China stated that different States had adhered to different treaties. [Bloggers note: This is of course true, but customary IHL and IHRL, such as the right to life and to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment apply to all States, irrespective of their treaty obligations.] On the proposed criteria of development and corruption, China felt that these criteria should be deleted. Finally, it called for a prohibition on export to NSAGs.

Côte d'Ivoire made a long statement, accusing at least two States of supplying weapons in violation of an arms embargo. It warned of the problems of transfers to NSAGs. 

Norway supported the UK's statement on the chapeau paragraph. It stated that the ATT would be a complex instrument. 

Switzerland called for the deletion of the second sentence of the chapeau paragraph. Switzerland suggested that the criterion on corruption might be redrafted in a way to actually linking the issue to the transfer of arms.

Sweden made an interesting intervention on the possible obligations under the treaty for States importing weapons or through which weapons transited, suggesting that different criteria would be needed.

Singapore stated that universality would be needed for an effective ATT. It said that the standards laid down should be comprehensive, objective, and should command consensus.

Egypt said that the ATT should apply to all States, not just those exporting. It felt that many of the criteria proposed were subjective and should be deleted, notably the references to IHL and IHRL, development, corruption, and organised crime. It even suggested a new provision whereby when a State met the remaining criteria, there should be an obligation to transfer "on favourable conditions", and "without delay".

The Netherlands supported other delegations calling for the chapeau to be strengthened. It stated that in no way should an ATT be considered to lead to an obligation to supply.

Russia called for the treaty not to be "politicised". It must be universal, and with clear wording, and the provisions must be practically implementable. It called for only criteria that can be interpreted objectively to be included.

Canada supported other delegations calling for the chapeau to be strengthened. It stated that although Canada believed in equality, "not all criteria are created equal". It suggested that certain criteria could be more hortatory (e.g. relating to development and corruption).

Mexico stated that the ATT should not be limited to exporter's obligations. It should provide for a dialogue between exporting and importing States. It called for criteria relating to IHL and IHRL to be dealt with separately.

Nigeria (on behalf of the African group) stated that the UN Register is not comprehensive enough for the ATT. It supported the 7+1+1 approach. Among the important issues to be covered by a future treaty, were victim assistance, respect for IHL and IHRL and the impact of the arms trade on the socio-economic situation of the recipient country. Nigeria also insisted that the ECOWAS convention was a good model for the ATT.

Austria stressed the need to deal with corruption within the framework of the ATT to ensure an effective control of the arms trade.

Cuba stressed that the parameters for the future treaty must respect the right to self-defence, be non-discriminatory and objective. It believed that the references to arms embargoes was redundant since they are already obligations upon States. Cuba did not want any references to IHL, IHRL, or development as criteria. Cuba also believes that corruption is too vague as a parameter.

Liberia referred to States in Africa using arms to oppress their own people.

Spain does not support the proposed deletion of criteria relating to IHL, IHRL, or development. It also supported the deletion of “as appropriate” in the chapeau.

Thailand stated that human rights can be highly politicized unless there is a clear link between human rights and a proposed arms transfer.

Burundi supports the inclusion of SALW in the scope of the treaty. 

Finland stated that the criteria proposed are similar to those used in their national practice. The following criteria merit highlighting: compliance with the State's international obligations in assessing transfers; compliance with IHL and IHRL; and risk of diversion. It welcomed the criterion dealing with corruption.

USA stated that the ATT should be considered as a floor and not a ceiling. Additional factors can be taken into account based on the state decision-making. The list of criteria/parameters is partly dependent on scope and national implementation. The chapeau of the paper should be modified. The US delegation was not supportive of language on development and corruption. Section II on sources of information to assess situations before transfers, should be deleted.

India stated that the parameters should be objective, non-discriminatory, and predictable. Transfers to NSAGs should be prohibited. Criteria on development should be based on assessment made by UN bodies and be made objective and predictable. 

Uruguay referred to the value of looking at, for example, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is a binding instrument addressing the transport of certain hazardous material.

Algeria stated it endorsed all human rights instruments but does not adopt the approach of regulating the trade of arms though IHRL.

Pakistan are of the opinion that the objectives of the ATT must be settled before working on the criteria. In any case, they want a treaty which is based on objective parameters.

Russia reminds that vague criteria cannot be truly effective. There should be measures to ensure that the flow of arms that goes to illegal armed groups and organized crimes committing  violations of human rights, be controlled and national control systems to regulate arms flow must then be strengthened. In Russia, for example, any illegal arms activity are severely punished by national criminal law.

France noted that states seem to have two visions of the goals of an ATT. For certain states, the ATT should focus on the regulation of the illicit trade, for others, the ATT should deal with the issue of the international trade of weapons in a broad way. France wants a treaty that seeks to regulate legal as well as illegal trade. With regards to the text distributed by the Chair, this would not be the case now. For example, looking at the corruption provision, it can be thought either as a parameter for trade (assess the substantial risk of corruption before transfer), or it could be considered as a crime that should be dealt with along the lines of the relevant treaties on the issue.

Senegal called for the chapeau language to be strengthened.

Syria stated that an ATT should be based on the principles set out in the UN Charter. It should be free from politicisation and double standards, and therefore be non-discriminatory. Syria wanted to remove reference to human rights and IHL.

Iran made similar suggestions to Syria and called for a prohibition on arms transfers to terrorist groups.

ICRC called for the chapeau language to be strengthened and noted that it has published a guide on applying IHL criteria to a proposed arms transfer.

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