Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Follow the yellow brick road?

© Jesper Waldersten
This morning, one of the main committee chairs, in a moment of conference-induced euphoria, told delegations on Day 13 that he felt there was an increasing convergence in positions. (He was referring specifically to the scope of the treaty.) Ninety minutes later, presumably after the effects of the narcotics had worn off, he was telling the same delegations that there was little more he felt he could do to help as positions were simply too far apart and they were basically just going to continue going round in circles. What a difference an hour makes.

But the same statement could have applied equally to the other main committee, which dealt with the goals and objectives of the treaty. In both cases, the drafts produced by the chairs were good; surprisingly good, in fact, given the extent of opposition on many matters of substance from the contras.

So where do we go from here? We may still get either new ad hoc thematic drafts tomorrow, or even perhaps a President's consolidated paper. But to what end? Neither will be able to bridge the huge differences--conceptual, contextual, and substantive--that clearly exist between the enlightened and the contras. Without a stunning change in positions by one side or the other, we are forced to accept that this conference will in all likelihood end in failure. But as shambolic as its management has often been, that is probably the best outcome.

So which governments will have the political courage to step forward and take this issue on? Where shall we prepare for a future diplomatic conference that is properly organised and based on serious rules of procedure that foresee the possibility of voting? Berlin? Canberra? Copenhagen? Geneva? Helsinki? Lisbon? Lusaka? Madrid? Mexico City? Nairobi? Oslo? Paris? Port of Spain? Tokyo? Wellington? A combination of these? These are all good candidates based on their positions during the conference and there are potentially others, so there's no shortage of serious possibilities. Just a question of who's ready and willing to step up to the plate. And we're coming slowly towards a draft worthy of the name, albeit one that is unpalatable to a significant minority of delegations, so a new process will not have to start from scratch. Just seven more negotiating days to go and then we can begin looking for the yellow brick road. 


  1. Do you have a link to the full text of this treaty I can not seem to find any of the drafts online.

  2. your blogs are the most concise and realistic i read on the ATT, thanks. i've always suspected the ATT would become another conference circuit outside the UN for the usual diplomats and NGO reps and that it will also likely produce little to shout about. the supporters signing up to something many of the larger arms producers wont touch, but you never know....

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