Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stop thinking and go in?

© Jesper Waldersten
On the positive side, interventions were generally shorter and more specific on day seven than they were on day six. On the less positive side, however, valuable negotiating time is rapidly being used up with these general exchanges of views (and precious little negotiating seems to be going on).

In the morning, states made initial interventions on international cooperation and assistance. The chair pleaded repeatedly for flexibility and imagination by delegates, but not much was forthcoming. Pakistan called for caution on the issue. It felt that many of the provisions discussed are related to the scope of the treaty and its goals and objectives. It claimed this is problematic because there is no agreement yet on these issues. North Korea agreed that the treaty's goals and objectives need to be determined before they could move forward.

China said that an ATT should help states to implement their obligations but without impinging on state sovereignty. Russia called for clarification on what is meant by implementation. It proposed to divide the issue into national implementation and international cooperation. The USA reminded delegates that this is a treaty on the regulation of the international trade in weapons. Although it is sympathetic to the victims of armed violence, assistance should only be related to the implementation of the treaty and should be provided on a voluntary basis by those states able to do so.

The afternoon saw a first exchange of views on final clauses. States discussed especially the number of ratifications needed to trigger entry into force, the reservations clause, and the dispute settlement provision. Peru said there should be no reservations on scope or criteria. Mexico said there should be no reservations at all. Ghana agreed. Iran said reservations should be allowed.

On the number of ratifications, Peru suggested 30, as did Mexico. Switzerland proposed 40. Ghana called for 60 ratifications, which Brazil supported. France suggested 65 ratifications, "hopefully including major exporters". Cuba stated 75 ratifications should be the minimum for entry into force, including primary exporters and users of conventional weapons.  Brazil likewise said there was a case for requiring major exporters to be among the ratifications. Iran called for ratification by all 10 major importer and exporter countries to trigger entry into force. China stated that the main importers and exporters must participate in the ATT. Italy, however, cautioned against another CTBT-type deadlock preventing entry into force.

Mexico called for a reference to Article 33(1), UN Charter on dispute settlement:

“The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

Trinidad and Tobago agreed there was a need for third party settlement of disputes in the event that conciliation and good offices was not successful. Switzerland called for a provision allowing for arbitration and recourse to the International Court of Justice as a last resort, as did Liechtenstein. Ghana said there was a need for a third party arbiter in case of disputes. Malaysia said that third party arbitration should be by mutual consent. Venezuela called for an effective dispute settlement mechanism in case of denial. In contrast, Italy said that in the dispute settlement clause, it should be made clear that denials fall within national sovereignty. France will provide a revised proposal for dispute settlement.

Switzerland called for voting where necessary for amendments to the treaty as did Liechtenstein. Iran, though, said amendment should only be by consensus. Denmark and Switzerland both called for deletion of the second paragraph of draft provision on relations with States not party. Switzerland also noted the need for a costs provision.

A final closed session of the day was held on criteria. It is not possible to report on the discussions, but Australia apparently presented the first joint proposal of the diplomatic conference (with Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland). About 30 delegations were waiting to take the floor when the day came to an end. As Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the US famously said, "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."


  1. Thanks so much for all these fantastic insights!
    Greetings from the Academy, I.