Monday, July 2, 2012

The End of the beginning or the beginning of the End?

© Jesper Waldersten 
The ATT negotiations failed to begin as expected this morning as the question of the participation of Palestine as a State blocked the opening ceremony. Israel and the US have made it clear that they will pull out of the diplomatic conference should Palestine be admitted as a participating State rather than an observer.

Palestine was admitted as a full member of UNESCO in 2011; such status is only accorded to States.
This could be the fastest diplomatic conference in history, as well as the least successful.

As if there weren’t already enough obstacles to an effective arms trade treaty...


  1. Would the ATT as presently understood have, in any way prevented the US from (nominally) covertly armed the Afghan Mujahedeen following the Soviet occupation? Or the Soviets and chinese from providing arms to the ANC, FRELIMO, ZANU and other non-state African anti-colonial and liberation movements? What about the current operation to arm the Syrian opposition by the Saudis, the Turks and the Americans?

  2. Thank you for your comment. The main issue being discussed is how the arms might be used. The idea is that a state party to an ATT must not transfer arms where there is a risk that the arms might facilitate war crimes or serious human rights violations. Even where there would be no such violations general international law would normally prohibit the transfer of arms to an armed group in another state as this constitutes an interference in the sovereignty of that other state. This was stated to be the law in the Nicaragua v USA case by the International Court of Justice, which concerned the arming of the Contras. It is unclear if this rule will be included in the treaty. Hope this helps.