Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day Four of the Third Prepcom

The Chair opened day four of the third Prepcom by announcing that he was issuing a new chair's text. This is the first complete draft of a possible Arms Trade Treaty that he has elaborated. Based on the discussions that ensued it is clear that several major arms exporters/importers (e.g. Egypt, India, Pakistan, and the US) do not support the general thrust of his current text. Some tough discussions and negotiations lie ahead.

Canada wanted a new clause allowing for legitimate civilian uses of small arms, including sport and hunting, in the principles section. On any right to "acquire", Canada wanted this deleted from the treaty. It also wanted sporting and hunting weapons excluded from the scope of the treaty. It had concerns about the inclusion of ammunition in the treaty.

On Annex A (definitions), there are two different definitions of "transfer". It called for the removal of the word "transport". It also sought clarification on the definition of brokering, including whether brokers should be regulated in the same way as exporters. It also had concerns about the extraterritorial application of national law with respect to brokering.

(c) Jesper Waldersten

Algeria sought clarification on whether the Chair's paper would be revised during the week. It also wanted a paper including all the proposals made by different delegations. This would help the Diplomatic Conference, it said. How does the Chair see the status of his paper?

Egypt wanted time to review the document.

Mexico stated that there should not be exceptions based on intended use as it is not a disarmament treaty. Guns used for recreation are some of the most often used for transnational organised crime. Excluding them would leave a big gap in the treaty.

Senegal stated that sanctions should be in place for violations of the treaty. The ATT should cover all conventional weapons, including ammunition.

The Republic of Korea stated that addressing brokering was a good approach, as set out in the Chair's new paper. It wanted the role of the ISU to include maintaining a database of reports. The treaty's scope should be flexible in order to capture new weapon and technologies. It did not think that victim assistance was relevant to the treaty but the wording "may" left sufficient flexibility in this issue.

Sweden thought the definition of transfer should be generic and preferred the one in Annex A to what was included in the section on scope.

India wanted references to non-State actors included. It did not find the document balanced and noted a wide range of views among delegations.

Uruguay called for a stronger provision on victim assistance to be included.

Mexico wanted to replace "serious" violations of human rights law with "grave and systematic" violations. On record-keeping, Mexico wanted records kept for 20 rather than 10 years.

The US stated that the draft does not move States closer to an agreement. This is a treaty about requiring States to have an assessment before authorising transfers. "I do not see how this text moves our discussion forward."

Pakistan stated that it saw the latest draft with disappointment. None of its proposals was contained in the latest draft. "What then is the purpose of this exercise"? It encouraged the Chair to begin in earnest efforts to find a consensus.

Argentina stated brokering should be covered by the treaty.

Ghana stated that that the humanitarian imperative should be kept in view.

The UK stated that the text was a platform for the drafting stage.


NGO presentations

Jeff Abramson, the new coordinator of the ControlArms Secretariat, gave the first presentation. He called for a broad definition of transfer to be included in the treaty. Second, he said the State Party reports should be made public.

Carole Engome of IANSA Women's Network called for the inclusion of a reference to gender-based violence in the ATT. She applauded the reference in the preamble of the Chair's text.

Suela Lala, lawyer and survivor of firearms injury, from Albania, called for a comprehensive framework for international cooperation and assistance.

Felipe Michelini, a legislator from Uruguay from Parliamentarians for Global Action, pledged that they would work towards rapid ratification of the future ATT and the adoption of detail legislation permitting its implementation.

Wayne Lapierre of the US National Rifle Association said that the right to bear arms was "self-evident". Those working on the ATT said trust us, but they have shown themselves unworthy of that trust. Only "solution" is not to include civilian firearms in the treaty. The treaty is the infringement of US citizens constitutional freedoms.

Ted Rowe, World Forum on the Future of Sports Shooting Activities, stated that more than 60% of all firearms are legally owned by civilians. Civilian firearms should not be included in the treaty. Only military firearms (i.e. those capable of fully automatic fire) should be covered. On ammunition, any marking and tracing is not feasible because of the difficulties in record keeping.

Allen Young of Defence Small Arms Advisory Council stated there is an obvious difference between a arms trade treaty and a small arms control treaty.

Resumption of preparatory committee

Egypt stated that changes to the Chair's paper were limited. It presents a particular, single model of an ATT. He claimed that there was not yet a set of international standards outlined in the Chair's paper. The text does not deal with regional military imbalances. There is nothing on following up on lack of compliance. Egypt does not like the terms used in the scope section, which it said are not clear, and do not follow those in the UN Register.

On criteria, the language needs to be tightened up. The terminology needs to avoid guesswork at national level. There needs to be oversight of respect for non-discrimination over and above the "potential violator". It would like to see a totally independent secretariat. There is a "sovereign right" to obtain arms for self-defence. The current text lacks any incentive for non-exporting States to adhere to it.

Guatemala stated that all SALW and ammunition should be covered by the treaty. In Guatemala, many weapons seized from organised crime are from hunting and sport. It wanted an independent ISU.

Peru said avoiding diversion of arms was a key objective. On scope, it was pleased to see that SALW and ammunition were included and did not want it to be possible to make reservations to the scope of the treaty.

Norway stated that references to illicit activities were somewhat superfluous; the treaty was also to prevent irresponsible transfer. Armed violence should be referred to in the preamble. There is no obligation to export arms and no right to import them. The dispute settlement provision on transfer denials might contradict the treaty. There is certain ambiguity on terminology, e.g. "transfer". Norway still believes that victim assistance should be included in the treaty. There is no need for a link between the arms export and the victim; it is to reiterate the rights of victims to assistance, in accordance with applicable human rights law. It regretted there was no inclusion of marking and tracing of weapons.

Brazil stated a greater deal of realism was a mark of this week's negotiations. Brazil still had concern about some of the elements included. It wanted deletion of reference in the preamble to excessive stockpiles. It wanted a new paragraph setting out the right to development through acquisition of technology and equipment. It did not want to see exclusions for certain weapons.

On criteria, some are still too vague. It opposed language on socio-economic development and questioned language on prolonging or provoking instability. Brazil would prefer either voluntary reporting or a more limited scope if reporting was compulsory. On amendments, Brazil wanted adoption by consensus.

Nigeria called for a new criterion on armed violence.

Trinidad and Tobago also wanted a reference in the preamble to armed violence. It stressed the need to include ammunition in the scope of the treaty. It wanted to see a prohibition on transfers to non-state actors.

Malawi stated that on criteria, the language on corruption was not clear. On enforcement, extradition for prosecution should be a possibility.

Saudi Arabia stated that it supported the concerns raised by Egypt. On dispute settlement, what if bilateral negotiations don't resolve the issue?

Algeria stated the Chair's text cannot constitute the basis for negotiations. It asked for an additional prepcom meeting to discuss the draft.

Certain statements are available in full at:


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