Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 5 of the Third PrepCom - National Implementation

The final day of the prepcom was, overall, more positive than the previous day, with the US rowing back slightly from its somewhat apocolapytic view of the status of the preliminary discussions. Consensus will remain an elusive beast, however, based on the persistent objections of a (relatively small but vociferous) number of States.

The EU stated that the Chair's paper is a solid basis on which to build in 2012. Even if some elements will not statisfy all delegations, that is normal. More work clearly needs to be done but the structure seems close to what could be the eventual treaty. The ATT should include munitions and ammunition. In their view, the provision on ‘technology structure’ covers ‘manufacture’. They welcome the clause on brokering. The clause on victim assistance should not go further than what is stated in the paper.

(c) Jesper Waldersten

 Italy called for more work on definitions. Sports and hunting weapons should included be in the ATT, but the focus should be on military weapons, including SALW. They don’t see it appropriate to include victim assistance in the core of the text but only in the preamble.
Chile said victim assistance should be only in the preamble. It called for greater precision on the extraterritorial applicability of the treaty.
Denmark said that it should be assessed carefully which provisions apply to what activities, e.g. criteria are only relevant for export, but not for import, and record-keeping must be linked to transfer authorization.

Germany said a more detailed list of arms should be included in an annex that would be easily amendable. SALW should be included, as well as munitions and ammunition.
Cuba stated that there were several points that were not acceptable to Cuba. Criteria, for example, can be easily manipulated for political reasons. They also want a clause on prohibition of transfers to n on-State actors. Information provision can only be voluntary; the treaty cannot put in danger the national security of a State.

France liked the method of work of the Chair as it allowed for the consideration of all the views of the States. It is also a more "courageous" approach. The text submitted seems coherent. No big surprise should appear now, and it is a good thing for all delegations. What is now the way forward? We are now in between phases of about a year before the Diplomatic Conference. We should then try to establish for the first day of the 2012 conference the best possible basis for how to: 1) take off all the elements unnecessary in the treaty (e.g. victim assistance, even if it should stay in the preamble). 2) clarify the obligations of States (ambiguities remains, such as the concrete consequences linked to risk assessment in transferring weapon); and 3) start to write the text in a ‘treaty’ language.
The UK still calls for a robust treaty with the highest possible standards. The text seems to go on this direction.
The US can support the statement of the EU, UK, and France except for the ammunition provision. The paper provides a good basis and gives elements in moving towards negotiation. Consensus cannot be achieved in all the ideas expressed in the paper. We need to focus our attention on the essential elements to be included in the treaty.
Belgium want to add a small provision in the preamble that could send a positive signal with regard to the problem of child soldiers. The preamble should refer to gender -ased violence and violence against children.

Uruguay in the name of Caribbean, Central and South American States stated that the treaty should include SALW, ammunition, and munitions to avoid loopholes. Clarification needs to be done with regard to criteria and exporting States. They want to replace ‘serious’ violations of human rights law by ‘gross and systematic’ violations. International assistance is a key element. Final provisions should not allow reservations, at least on the scope. Review conference should be given a mandate to eventually broaden the scope. Settlement of disputes should include a reference to Article 33 of the UN Charter to allow a wide range of means of dispute settlements.
Russia said that there was progress if by that we mean a better understanding of the positions of the States. However, the prepcom has not been successful in transferring a balanced proposal to the General Assembly. Instead the Chair proposed a working paper that renders the different views expressed. It is the personal understanding of the Chair of how a treaty could look. Russia does not know if it can become the basis of negotiations. Consensus is very unlikely as the text stands. We don’t have a clear understanding of what the treaty could bring and what its aims are. For Russia, the main aim of a possible document is to counter the transfer of arms to the illicit market.
The Netherlands said that the Chair's text is a good basis for further work. Ammunition and munitions should be included (to include hand grenades, for example). It is a regulation treaty and not a treaty that would ban the arms trade. Denial transfers cannot be negotiated and are a matter of national sovereignty. No provision should be drafted concerning denial transfers. NGOs must be able to participate in the Review Conference and it should be foreseen in the treaty.

Costa Rica said that the objective of the treaty must be to realize what the General Assembly stated, i.e. to contribute to a more peaceful world and stability between nations and reduce human suffering. It won’t suppress wars but it can limit the flow of arms that fuels armed conflicts. Costa Rica is generally satisfied with the text. They also want an inclusion in the criteria regarding risk of transfer to non-State actors.

Switzerland welcomed the inclusion of SALW in the scope of the treaty. They also welcome the inclusion of explosives, such as hand grenades. Some terms should be better defined: for example, what is a military vehicle? Switzerland is pleased to see criteria on peace and security, and serious violations of IHL and human rights. The issue of poverty reduction is also a good criteria, as well as corruption. A reference to the risk of the transfer of arms to the civilian population should be included. 20 years should be the minimum time for record-keeping.
Colombia said that the criteria as drafted can still be subjective and political. It is necessary to refine the wording to avoid that at a maximum. They want inclusion of a provision on non-State actors. Victim assistance should only be in the preamble. Review conferences must be able to amend the treaty.

Sweden sees the paper as a list of issues that need to be tackled during the diplomatic conference and not as a basis of a treaty per se. The paper is a road map and not a text to be negotiated.
Spain wishes a robust and simple treaty to regulate the arms trade and end illicit arms trafficking Provisions will need to be better refined, but still it is a good basis for discussion.

Iran said that the text is not a basis for negotiation. Despite positive changes, it does not include many issues which are essential to Iran. It lacks clarity and vision. Terms are vague and ill defined, such as ‘irresponsible’ trade, which will raise a lot of interpretation issues. Since 85% of the arms trade is dominated by a handful of States, the entry into force should be conditioned by the ratifications of the 15 exporting countries. It asked for the submission of a rolling text.


  1. On France : the ambassador said "courageux", not risky. It was not translated well.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Anon. We've corrected this in the blog.
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