Friday, July 23, 2010

Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt? Thoughts on the first PrepCom for an Arms Trade Treaty

First the good news. It looks as if there will indeed be an Arms Trade Treaty and that the treaty may even be adopted at the Diplomatic Conference foreseen for 2012. Neither of these two possibilities looked anywhere near as likely prior to this first PrepCom.

The greater unknown is what precisely the treaty will regulate and how far it will prevent illicit transfers or the diversion of conventional weapons as well as 'licit' transfers of weapons that are subsequently used for unlawful purposes. Certainly, if an ATT endorses the status quo it will not only prove a failure, it will take us backwards, for there is almost universal agreement that the current situation is fuelling a myriad of conflicts, abusive violence, and societal misery.

Let us hope that the positive words and warm fuzzy feeling that enveloped many at the closing session of the prepcom is ultimately converted into effective action. For it is always to be feared, in the words of the late Will Rogers, that diplomacy is "the art of saying 'nice doggie' while looking for a rock."

Thanks to everyone for following our blog on the prepcom; we hope it has been useful. We will update it periodically with new information in the period leading up to the second prepcom in late February 2011. Hasta luego.

Day 10 of the PrepCom

The Chair opened the final session of the first PrepCom for an Arms Trade Treaty by restating the clear need that the second PrepCom in February 2011 will have to discuss "specific matters". In the period leading up to February, he noted the importance of planned informal and academic meetings and consultations, such as the regional seminars planned by UNIDIR.

He reiterated his commitment to be "always aiming for transparency and all-inclusive participation". He then made an interesting pledge to present Chair's texts to the second prepcom on scope, criteria and parameters, in his words "to provoke a reaction"! Although such texts bind no State in any way, they may be influential in mapping out the type of treaty that is ultimately adopted and thus he faces a major challenge in ensuring that transparency is maintained as he develops his texts.

There then followed many statements by delegations, all praising the Chair for his work.

Belgium speaking on behalf of the EU, candidate countries, as well as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova state the view that the document the Chair had presented on Day 9 as one that reflected the discussions "in a balanced way".

Pakistan again stated its view that transactions between two sovereign States should not be affected by the treaty.

Egypt agreed that small arms and light weapons as a category falls within the definition of conventional weapons but fell short of specifically endorsing their coverage by the ATT.

Iran said some of the suggestions made by delegations were “naive” and claimed that some of these sought to cover all situations “apart from natural disasters and global warming”.

Switerland restated the need for an effective ATT, and hoped that the major arms exporter would become party to it. It called for a national implementation framework that would be easy to implement for a State that did not yet have the appropriate infrastructure. It hoped thaat the treaty wwould contribute to the maintenance of regional peace, stability, and security. Taking into account the limited time available, it suggested that States should not be over-ambitious.

Japan noted the importance of international cooperation and assistance, suggesting that capacity-building was one of the most important elements in treaty, to help States that need such assistance to implement the treaty, in particular by establishing a national licensing system. It hoped there would be a timeframe laid down for national implementation by the treaty.

Mexico again stressed the importance of including SALW, referring to it as a "moral obligation" on States.

Pakistan took the floor again to stress the need for consensus in adopting the treaty and the obligation not to erode State sovereignty.

Egypt noted that the facilitator's work has been a brainstorming exercise and that not too much should be read into the reports.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 9 of the PrepCom

The session opened with the three Friends of the Chair reporting back to the plenary on the results of their informal discussions (see summary papers below). There was minimal discussion following these summaries, which represented the range of views on the scope of the treaty (especially which weapons would be covered); its parameters (criteria for judging the legality of a transfer), and measure to implement the treaty.
Facilitator's Summary for Scope

Facilitator's Summary on Parameters

Facilitator's Summary on Implementation and Application

The Chair then presented his revised paper on preamble and treaty elements (see below) and opened the floor for discussion. The interventions largely repeated earlier positions, as most delegations appeared to have exhausted the limit of their instructions and were simply treading water. The Chair amounced that discussions would, though, continue on the final morning of the prepcom. 

Chairman's Draft Paper

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 8 of the PrepCom

The plenary reconvened on Day 8 of the PrepCom.

Belgium speaking on behalf of the EU said that the ATT should include provisions on international cooperation and assistance, which would be crucial to ensure that all States Parties implement the treaty’s provisions. There should also be a competent licensing authority at the national level, which would be the responsibility of each State Party. International cooperation should cover, inter alia, 1) legislative assistance, 2) institutional capacity building, 3) the implementation of administrative measures, and 4) technical assistance in other appropriate expertise. For further details, see the fact sheet on the experience of the EU in international cooperation and assistance.

The United States called for the discussion on the ATT to be narrowed in order to find more agreement among the delegations. It sought a straightforward document that would focus on the obligation of States.

France proposed an article on international mutual legal assistance, “shall afford the parties with mutual legal assistance in investigation, prosecution and trial proceedings.”

Australia said that transparency and reporting: could contribute to peace and security. 1) Compliance by state at the international level and 2) compliance by actors within the national system. It cited the example of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which included a procedure for a State Party to request compliance from another, and if necessary a fact-finding mission. There is also provision for dispute settlement between States Parties. Australia also stated its support for international cooperation and assistance.

Pakistan said that transparency “is a potentially problematic concept”. It said that certain information about inter-State transfers could be shared in total confidentiality, but subject to the issue of national security.

Belgium again on behalf of the EU said that transparency covered important principles that touched on several aspects of the ATT. National reports should be mandatory on an annual basis to the UN secretariat for entry on a UN database. There should be requirements for information exchange, which should include exchange of information on the assessment of an application for the transfer of weapons governed by the ATT. Transparency and reporting would underpin a consultation mechanism allowing for the monitoring of the implementation of the treaty at national level. The ATT should also establish a review mechanism after five years after entry into force.

Senegal made a strong and surprising statement against transparency, arguing that this might infringe national security.

Brazil stressed the importance of international cooperation and assistance in the areas of exchanging good practice and providing training, technical assistance, and mutual legal assistance.

New Zealand said that international cooperation and assistance would be fundamental in the implementation of the ATT, and that the treaty should insist on high benchmarks. There are existing requirements focusing on border security requirements to draw upon.

Mexico made a detailed and forward-looking statement (jointly with Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay). Among other issues, it called for the treaty to prevent diversion of arms to the illicit market. It stated that the treaty should apply to all conventional weapons and should be able to cover future developments of weapons. The transactions covered by the treaty should be broad. It called for all weapons covered by the treaty to be marked at time of manufacture. No transfers of weapons to non-State actors should be permitted. It also discussed the risk of diversion from UN peacekeeping operations.

Nigeria said that technical assistance should be on request, but that victim assistance should not. It declared that those whose commercial interests and profits have caused sufferings to others should be held accountable. It recommended that a provision on victim assistance be included separate from the provision on assistance and cooperation.

The Chair suggested that victim assistance should be separated from international cooperation and assistance.

Belgium referred to its national legislation on child soldiers, noting that it had adopted a law by which it is illegal for it to export weapons to countries where children were recruited in the regular armed forces.

Costa Rica said that transparency was important and should include periodic and detailed reports covering the obligations arising from ATT on both authorized and unauthorised transfers. There should be provision for international assistance. It called for civil society to have access to information on international arms transfers. It stated that it could be counterproductive to refer to international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the treaty.

The USA mentioned the fact that delegates should consider the elements they want to be put forward, that time was precious and that delegations should be careful not to undermine the process, which could lead to a failure.

Pakistan said that the issue of UN Peacekeeping operations was an issue to be discussed in another forum. It stated that child soldier is a noble suggestion, but claimed that an agreed international definition of a child was lacking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 7 of the PrepCom

Suggested treaty text on victim 
assistance and national implementation measures

In the absence of entry to the closed session of the PrepCom we have continued to offer draft text for the future ATT, with a proposal for provisions on victim assistance and national implementation measures, including penal sanctions. Numerous States have spoken in favour of a victim assistance provision in the treaty, such as Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, and Uruguay. Only Egypt has publicly questioned the inclusion of such a provision. A short commentary on our suggested provisions is included on the page to the right.

Article X. Assistance to the victims of armed violence

Each State Party undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure the provision of assistance to the victims of armed violence in areas under its jurisdiction or control. Such assistance, which is to be rendered in accordance with applicable international law and standards, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, shall seek to promote their effective rehabilitation and recovery as well as their social and economic reintegration.

Article XX. International cooperation and assistance in favour of the victims of armed violence

Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of victims of armed violence. Such assistance may be provided inter alia through the United Nations system, relevant international, regional or national organisations or institutions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and their International Federation, non-governmental organisations, or on a bilateral basis.


Penal sanctions and other measures to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention will be critical in ensuring that its core obligations do not remain statements of good intention. Below is proposed an article on legislative and other associated measures in a future ATT.

Article XXX. National implementation measures, including penal sanctions 

1. Each State Party shall take all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to implement this Convention, including the imposition of penal sanctions to prevent and suppress any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention undertaken by persons or on territory under its jurisdiction or control.

2. Each State Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, a serious violation of this Convention as defined in paragraph 3, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another State Party concerned, provided such State Party has made out a prima facie case.

3. Serious violations to which this article applies are any unauthorised transfer of any conventional weapon within the scope of this Convention and which result in the death or serious injury of one or more civilians.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 6 of the PrepCom

Civil society was excluded from all the discussions on Day 6 of the PrepCom. Two closed meetings covered implementation and application of the future Arms Trade Treaty. The European Union called  for national legislative and administrative measures to control exports, imports and transits.; national provisions to prohibit, prosecute, and penalise participation in the illicit arms trade; record-keeping and reporting, and tracing of diverted weapons; and the obligation to report on assessed transfers to a UN database. The Russian Federation made a proposal to regulate brokering through a sole authorised broker.

Side Event: “ATT Transport Controls Briefing”, organized by Amnesty International

This event focused on how to adequately monitor and control the transport of weapons, munitions, and associated equipment in order to prevent their diversion from the legal market to illegal use. Sergio Finardi (Trans Arms Research) presented ways and methods to control the arms supply-chains and stressed the need for States to commit to the development of common standards and a  mechanism of control as well as to exchange relevant data.

There is already a detailed system of transport controls for dangerous and hazardous goods, but not for arms. In the arms trade, maritime traffic amounts to 80% of total transportation, and 15 global companies control 66% of all full containerships. According to Finardi, there is a need to identify 1) logistics network in relation to the location of arms manufacturers, 2) the sea/air routes and land corridors, 3) the logistics carriers, 4) the sensitive free-trade zones for better regulation, and 5) to standardise documentation to enable better monitoring.

Amnesty International UK presented the key findings of their reports: Deadly Movements: Transportation Controls in the Arms Trade Treaty (July 2010). The report proposes three sets of core standards which should be included in an ATT to require each state to regulate the transport of arms (1) through States' territories or airspace; (2) by arms transport service providers operating from their jurisdiction, and (3) on ships and aircraft ‘flagged’ in their jurisdiction.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Some thoughts on the first week of the PrepCom

The bloggers' view: We're one quarter of the way through the PrepCom process already, so it's time to take initial stock of where the preparatory process is at. Overall, things have gone slightly better than expected given the process's requirement for consensus, with the (relatively few) States that do not wish to see an ATT at all, or at least not a treaty with any teeth, surprisingly weak in their interventions. While some States have remained fixed in their positions, some movement has been detected among what have been termed "the sceptics", such as Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, China and the Russian Federation. India, for example, seems a little more positive than they were previously.

The USA drew the first major line in the sand on Thursday (Day 4 of the PrepCom) announcing that they would block any attempt to draft a treaty that covered sporting or hunting weapons. This is slightly surprising, given that no one is suggesting that the treaty will regulate sale of weapons within a State, and will only seek to prevent transfer to those that misuse them. So if weapons are sold abroad so that people can go hunting, these transfers will in no way be impeded. Only if they are being used for major crimes, or diverted to unlawful recipients, would there be any impact.

The NGOs were locked out of the room for two afternoons during the week and Friends of the Chair meetings will be mostly behind closed doors next week. It was good to see the campaign make a public response to this disappointing decision, as civil society mobilisation in favour of the treaty has otherwise been rather low key in this first week.

For next week, more framework text is expected from the Chair, maybe even a rolling text by the end of the week. We will continue developing draft text to input into the discussions. So, until Monday, have a good weekend wherever you are.

Day 5 of the PrepCom

Day 5 of the PrepCom

The Chair interrupted the PrepCom to convene an informal meeting to allow NGOs to make presentations to the States attending the PrepCom.

Oxfam International made a rather general presentation about the importance of an ATT.

Amnesty International gave a presentation on the importance of the treaty, giving an example of ammunition used to commit a human rights violation. Ammunition does not fall within the conventional arms covered by the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

IANSA (a member from Brazil) criticised the draft principles paper, calling for the treaty not to accommodate all views. It called for the pace of discussions to be even faster. It is a preventive not a punitive instrument.

IANSA (a member from Fiji) noted the link between the arms trade and gender-based violence. She also stated that research had indicated that the arms trade was one of the top three activities involving corruption.

Rebecca Peters, the director of IANSA, stated that the absence of commonly agreed standards on the arms trade was contributing to serious violations of IHL and international human rights law, gender-based violence.

A representative of the World Forum on the Future of Sports Shooting Activities called for the ATT to “move away from civilian firearms.” It claimed that military firearms were those “capable of fully-automatic fire”. He also said the ATT should not cover small arms ammunition, which “is simply an exercise in futility that will consume valuable time and in the end produce nothing.”

The Defence Small Arms Advisory Council (an association of military small arms manufacturers) argued against including dual-use items in the ATT. He claimed that the primary problem was “the unregulated and under-regulated international trade in military weaponry, such as combat aircraft and naval vessels, tactical vehicles, heavy machineguns, anti-aircraft systems, mortars, missiles and artillery pieces.”

The Chair then returned to the formal session of the PrepCom.

Belgium called for the treaty to set out the goals and objectives of the treaty. This should be to prevent the illicit trade in conventional weapons to ensure they are not used to contribute to armed conflicts, trans-national organized crime, terrorist acts, or to commit serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Australia also called for the treaty to eradicate or at least minimise the illicit trade in conventional arms.

Brazil noted the need not to impede the legitimate right to impede a State’s right to manufacture and transfer weapons for its self-defence.

Venezuela stated that with respect to the elements and principles paper, there was no need for an international secretariat. It questioned whether SALW should be included.

Iran repeated some of the views it had expressed previously.

India noted the need to prevent and counteract illicit trafficking in arms.

Russia referred to the illicit arms trade as a threat as being a priority.

The ICRC said that weapons should be available only to those who respect IHL and IHRL. It referred to attacks on humanitarian personnel preventing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population.

Israel again noted the importance of preventing transfer to terrorist groups.

Egypt put the emphasis on the promotion of the goals and objectives of the UN Charter.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 4 of the PrepCom

The Chair announced that a draft programme of work would be issued later during the day. He confirmed that a first meeting convened by the Friend of the Chair on scope would take place in the afternoon. At this meeting, the USA stated that if hunting weapons were included they would block the adoption of an ATT. 

Government statements to the fourth morning of the PrepCom

Egypt wanted clarification in the section on implementation and application between obligations on importing States, exporting States, and those engaged in transshipment. Egypt also wanted clarification on the relevance of international human rights law to the ATT and would prefer not to refer to it at all. It also cautioned against including references to corruption and money-laundering. Egypt wanted the possibility to contest "unfair denials". It suggested starting the drafting process with a political declaration and moving towards a treaty in a "phased approach".

On the Chairman's Draft Principles paper, Egypt stated that it wanted to see a reference to the "right of States to produce and export arms". It also wanted a reference to the importance of nuclear disarmament. It wanted deletion of references to international human rights law and to including small arms and light weapons in the paper.

Nigeria noted the importance of victim assistance and stated that it should be in a section on its own, which would help to highlight the humanitarian aim of this treaty. It called for a provision on relations with States not party and the relationship of the treaty with other agreements. It wanted a prohibition on supplying arms to non-State actors. This was perhaps one of the most critical issues for Nigeria.

Belgium speaking on behalf of the European Union warmly welcomed the Chairman's Draft Principles paper. On the elements, Belgium stated that the scope should cover conventional arms and related materials. An annex could cover the list of related materials covered by the treaty. The EU proposed a later guide to implementation. It proposed that any reference to non-discrimination should be included in the preamble not the body text. EU could accept a "minimal" international implementation support secretariat within the UN. It wanted a reference to the risk of corruption and the obligation to combat such corruption in accordance with relevant international instruments.

Indonesia was disappointed that the draft did not better reflect its concern about the right to maintain terrritorial integrity.

Switzerland called for a separate section on definition and costs in the draft elements paper.

Namibia stated that the principles should be in the preamble.

France was "surprised" by certain of the statements of Egypt. It did not agree with making a distinction between importing and exporting States. France said the impact of trade on development and the importance of international human rights and humanitarian law was critical for the treaty. A reference to corruption was also essential.

Brazil stated the need for marking and transfer of small arms to be included as a precondition to their transfer. It welcomed the Draft Principles paper.

Singapore suggested the need for adding a reference to consensus negotiation of the treaty. It also wanted a

Norway welcomed the Draft Principles paper. It disagreed strongly with any attempts to delete the reference to international human rights and humanitarian law. It felt that too much reference was made to State security.  It called for reference to the need to reduce armed violence. It wanted a reference to key Security Copuncil resolutions on sexual violence and women, peace and security and also to the rights of victims of armed violence.

Japan welcomed the Draft Principles paper. It could be reorganised and streamlined. It felt strongly that the reference to international human rights and humanitarian law should be maintained. 

Trinidad and Tobago agreed with retaining the reference to international human rights and humanitarian law should be maintained. It wanted a reference to drug trafficking.

Iran did not want any reference to Security Council embargoes or to address small arms and light weapons. It wanted additional paragraphs limiting or avoiding any ATT restrictions on the right to procure equipment.

The Russian Federation stated that more emphasis on responsibilities needed to be included in the paper on draft principles.

The Philippines wanted definitions added to the paper on draft elements, as well as victim assistance. It also wanted a reference to record keeping and regional cooperation. On draft principles, it supported Indonesia.

Syria did not want any reference to the Security Council in the draft principles paper.

Pakistan again questioned the feasibility of the treaty. It wanted deletion of references to international human rights and humanitarian law, but was open to being convinced of the appropriateness. It wanted emphasis of the primacy of the State. It noted that there were no consensus definitions of terrorism or non-State actor.

Thailand wanted definitions to be included in the draft elements paper.

Italy stated with respect to Egypt's concern about unfair denials that it was not possible to oblige States to transfer weapons.

The USA noted that this was not a drafting exercise.

Egypt questioned what assistance could be provided to victims.

New Zealand called for a reference to the role of civil society in the preamble. It suggested that violations of IHL and human rights law was one of the consequences of irresponsible arms trade. It called for a reference to accountability in the preamble.

Belgium speaking on behalf of the EU welcomed the draft principles paper. It wanted reference to the "obligations" of States under international law. It noted that national implementation must be in accordance with the ATT. It reiterated its call for a reference to the risk of corruption.

Australia stated that the right to manufacture and transfer weapons should be "in accordance with international law".

India wanted to add development and acquisition of weapons in paragraph 6 of the Chair's paper.

South Africa stressed that the ATT cannot create an obligation to export.

Nigeria approved of the references to small arms and light weapons and armed conflict.

Libya supported Egypt's statement.

Spain opposed suggestion of including reference to nuclear disarmament.

Israel wanted a reference to the threat of the use of force. It did not want a reference to self-determination. It wanted a reference to the responsibility of States to regulate the arms trade. It wanted a reference to "terrorists" before unauthorised non-State actors.

China welcomed the Chair's paper as a basis for discussion.

Side Event: Supporting the ATT negotiations through regional discussions, activities, and research

The European Union and UNIDIR presented their new project supporting the ATT negotiations through regional discussions, activities, and research. Sergio Duarte, the UN High Representative for Disarmament, stressed the importance of regional input to the ATT to generate a common and agreed platform for discussion, engage national parliamentarians, and draw on the work of civil society and academic institutions.

Cyriaque Agnekethom from the ECOWAS Commission gave his views on the ECOWAS experience and regional seminar that took place in Dakar in April 2009. He felt it served as an useful forum for increasing understanding on the ATT process, focusing on sub-regional specificities and concerns, and exchanging views on what should be in a possible ATT.

Elie Kytömäki (UNIDIR) concluded the session by presenting the upcoming EU-UNIDIR activities and research in support of the ATT process. Thus includes the organisations of seven regional seminars in 2010-2012.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 3 of the PrepCom

The Chairman's Draft Elements of an ATT

The Chair opened the third morning of the PrepCom by introducing briefly his "draft elements" for a future Arms Trade Treaty. The Chair listed the elements that could be included.
The bloggers' view: Possibly surprising omissions from the Chair's list of draft elements were the following:
  1. Definitions (likely to be an extremely challenging exercise) 
  2. Scope of application of the treaty (in addition to the type of weapons and types of activities and covered, which were included in the Chair's draft)  
  3. Relations with States not party to the treaty, and 
  4. Specific reference to meetings of States Parties and review  of the conferences (though these may be intended to fall within the proposed inclusion in final provisions of follow-up mechanisms and review processes).
In addition, the Chair's draft elements suggested that there would be a separate reference to goals and objectives of the treaty, as opposed to including them in the preamble as most delegations had called for.

Government statements to the third morning of the PrepCom

The bloggers' view of the morning's interventions: Many forward-looking statements were made during the third morning of the PrepCom, and a wide--though by no means universal--convergence was seen in the majority of the interventions. Encouragingly, several interventions referred to the responsibility of States to regulate the arms trade in order to address serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and armed violence. Other highlights included Mexico's call for a provision on compulsory universal jurisdiction (known as aut dedere aut judicare under international law) to be included in the ATT as well as the Holy See's call for the rights of victims to be included.

Egypt on behalf of the Group of Arab States welcomed "any efforts made with regard to the regulation of armaments and the trade of arms". It cautioned, however, that an ATT "must take into account the elements of production and stockpiling, along with the export, import and transfer." It stated that the "potential ATT has to be based on and not to conflict with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including the legitimate right of States to the production, export and import of conventional arms, the right to self-determination, the inadmissibility of the occupation of others' territories, the respect for State's sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use of armed forces against unarmed civilians, etc."

Belgium on behalf of the European Union set out the principles that it would like to see reflected in the ATT. The aim was to prevent the illicit transfer of arms and "should prevent conventional weapons from being used to contribute to armed conflicts, trans-national organized crime, terrorist acts, serious human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law". In addition, an ATT "should respect the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law".

Australia stated that the preamble should include the context for the negotiation and adoption of an ATT, including the interest of all States in preventing irresponsible or illicit transfer of arms.

Norway stated its view that the responsibility of States to reduce human suffering underpins an ATT. The treaty should prevent arms transfers that are used to violate international human rights law and international humanitarian law and armed violence.

South Africa stated its preference for including the guiding principles in the preamble. It supported the principles as outlined by Belgium on behalf of the EU.

The Philippines stated that the treaty must respect the right to self-defence, the principle of non-interference, territorial integrity, and take into account the special responsibility of the supplying State. It should prevent transfers to non-State actors. It did not want to see dual-use goods included in the treaty.

Japan wanted the preamble to highlight how the lack of agreed common standards for the transfer of conventional arms contributed to armed conflict, terrorism, and organised crime. States have a responsibility to ensure that arms they transfer do not contribute to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Arms should not be diverted to unauthorised recipients.

Canada believes that an ATT should be based on transparency, clarity, and universality. It should build on existing obligations of States under international law. It should offer clear rules for the trade in conventional weapons. The treaty should be implemented and enforced at a national level.

Senegal stated the importance of taking into account international human rights and humanitarian law as well as the impact of the arms trade on economic development.

Portugal declared that an ATT would be an important tool in addressing the illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Brazil stated the lack of commonly agreed standards on the arms trade was a factor in armed conflict, terrorism, and organised crime.

Mexico referred to the principle of the shared responsibility of States to meet the aims of the treaty. They also noted that the ATT should include a provision on compulsory universal jurisdiction.

Sweden supported the statement delivered by Belgium on behalf of the EU. It added that an important element was the determination of common standards for the assessment of whether to authorise a transfer of conventional weapons. These should be the highest possible standards. Sweden also sought a reference to the risk of corruption from the arms trade.

Iran stated that a potential ATT should be based on the principles on the use of force, the right to self-defence, non-interference in internal affairs, full respect for the sovereign right of States.

The Netherlands reiterated the importance of making clear what the ATT is trying to achieve: to set out clear criteria for authorising conventional arms transfers.

The Holy See noted the importance of transparency in the arms trade. It called for the treaty to cover the rights of victims of armed violence and support their rehabilitation and reintegration. 

Germany noted that the ATT would seek to regulate arms transfers, it was not a disarmament treaty.

Pakistan called for "subjective criteria" to be avoided in the ATT. Transfer between two States not subject to an UN embargo should not be covered by the ATT. It should not impact production by developing countries. Should major producers follow a certain standard to curb excessive production of weapons? How much is enough? 

The United Kingdom stated that the three UN General Assembly resolutions set out the principles underpinning the ATT. The UK did not favour picking out certain aspects of the UN Charter: "The Charter is the Charter and we are all bound by it." The ATT should not establish new embargoes on the transfer of weapons. (The UK subsequently clarified further its statement on including references to specific elements of the UN Charter, mentioning its flexibility).

The USA stated that he hoped for a treaty that would be both effective and "widely adopted if not immediately universal." It referred to the responsibility of both the supplier and recipient to control transfers of arms so that they are used "for appropriate purposes".

Israel objected to a reference to the right of all peoples to self-determination on the basis that it might legitimate transfers to terrorists.

Egypt noted the link between principles and scope. It objected to Israel's opposition to a reference to the right of all peoples to self-determination.

Indonesia noted the importance of protecting human rights as well as maintaining territorial integrity.

The Republic of Korea approved of the Chair's paper on draft elements. Korea fully supported a strong ATT.

The Russian Federation stated the need for the treaty to counter the illicit trade in weapons.

ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) stated that arms transfers should not be made to non-State actors without the express authority of the State in which they are located. It should lay down sanctions for violations.

India called for the treaty not to affect in any way the right of States to produce or acquire conventional weapons for its defence.

China stated that the goal of the ATT was maintenance of international peace and security, and the ability to maintain territorial integrity.

Side Event: A Practical Guide to Implementing a Future ATT

The publication, National Implementation of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide, has been developed by C.I.T.S. at the University of Georgia in the US, Oxfam, and Saferworld. The side event was supported by The Netherlands.

Saferworld stressed the primacy that the ATT will give to national implementation of its provisions. It was emphasised that there will not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Anne-Charlotte Merrell Wetterwik of the CITS affirmed that a national implementation system should comprise three basic components: a licensing system, enforcement mechanisms and provisions, and external outreach to industry and international partners.

Paul Pasnicu, the General Director of the the National Agency for Export Controls, of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that a functioning export control mechanism was a process not an act. He stressed the importance of regulating small arms transfers.

Government statements to the third afternoon of the PrepCom

Surinam on behalf of CARICOM stated that the Caribbean region had been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the availability of weapons. It called for the highest possible standards for the transfer of arms. It should also enshrine the principle of State responsibility that arms not be diverted from their intended recipients.

Trinidad and Tobago called for States that violated a future ATT should be subject to sanctions.

The Chair then presented his paper on "draft elements" of an ATT. He acknowledged that certain elements that had been raised by delegations were missing, such as the UK proposal for general obligations. He also noted several issues that he did not know "where to put": the diversion of arms as well as other issues related to the illicit arms trade; India's reference to organized crime and terrorism; corruption; and victim assistance raised by Norway.

India noted the difficulty of the task facing the Chair. He suggested that the various issues raised orally by the Chair but not yet included should be listed as "other elements" in the next version of his paper.

Pakistan felt the "table of contents" presented by the Chair was perhaps a little "premature" but wanted to see all suggestions reflected.

Mexico stated that the issue of diversion was a matter of particular concern to many delegations. Another important issue was marking and tracking of weapons. It also noted the importance of victim assistance.

Egypt felt that the more the issues were discussed, the more complex they became. It hoped that the paper would not prejudge the structure of a future treaty. Egypt wanted to see rights as well as obligations included in the treaty. It noted goals and objectives was separated from the preamble. It further wished to see consultation and clarification in the treaty, especially with a view to preventing discrimination. It wanted to see sanctions for treaty violations. National focal points could be given more prominence. Finally, incentives to encourage adherence could be useful. It stressed that the treaty should not just be supply based but also outline the rights and obligations of recipients.

Tanzania called for regional and sub-regional organisations to be involved in the monitoring of the future treaty.

The UK said it was good to be able to agree with Pakistan "as it didn't happen very often these days".

South Africa stated that combating crime, terrorism, and conflict were the key issues underpinning the ATT.

France referred to the need for including a provision on scope of application. France felt that national legislation and controls, criminalisation of violations, and cooperation and assistance would be the three pillars of the future treaty. It questioned the need for an implementation support secretariat.

The Russian Federation reiterated the importance of addressing diversion in the treaty.

Norway noted the need to include under scope both ammunition and related technologies in addition to weapons. It reiterated its call for vicim assistance to be included. It wanted to see greater detail relating to criteria.

New Zealand called for other issues to be added to the paper, such as the relationship with other agreements.

Australia also commended the Chair for his paper. It hoped to see clarification as to whether transshipment and brokering would be covered. It also wanted clarification of the relations between States Parties and States non party.

Uruguay wanted a chapter on definitions to be added. It called for record keeping to be addressed under the issue of transparency. It also supported other calls for a provision on victim assistance.

Iran also wanted definition of key terms included in the treaty. It wanted a separate provision on principles, not being convinced that their inclusion in the preamble was appropriate. It wanted the issue of criminalisation of violations deleted. It also wanted the deletion of any reference to an international secretariat.

Belgium on behalf of the European Union also commended the paper. It will respond in detail, possibly in writing, the following morning.

Trinidad and Tobago also stressed the importance of diversion. It agreed with New Zealand on the need for specific reference to meetings of States Parties.

The USA called for headings on definitions, relationship with other agreements, and an annex. It expressed concern about a number of issues included in the Chair's list, such as a secretariat, dispute settlement, denunciation, denials, and enforcement.

Spain favoured a short, simple declaration of the object and purpose of the treaty.

Morocco stated that international cooperation and assistance was essential. It wanted references to corruption and money laundering. It wanted specific reference to non-State actors.

Syria noted the importance of Article 51 of the UN Charter and stated that the ATT should not discriminate and should not be politicised.

The Republic of Korea supported the paper and stressed the importance of international cooperation and assistance. It also called for further details of the common standards/criteria for transfer.

Indonesia thought that if reporting is included in the treaty then there should be a secretariat also.  It suggested victim assistance be included in the section on international cooperation and assistance.

Ghana wanted the right of victims to an effective remedy to be included.

The Netherlands thought that at this stage it was premature to define the content of the draft elements. It wanted a mention that the definition of weapons should be flexible in view of the technology development. In this regard, it noted that the review process could also be held every year (in the discussion reference was made to five- and 10-year intervals).

China had a specific proposal on the structure, suggesting that monitoring, verification and compliance be merged into the heading on implementation and application.

The UAE wanted separation of the concepts of international assistance and capacity-building.

Pakistan issued a general note of caution about the paper.

In closing day three of the PrepCom, the Chair issued his paper on draft principles for discussion tomorrow and announced the appointment of three Friends of the Chair to consult with delegations on three key issues: on scope, Trinidad and Tobago; on standards and criteria, Australia; and on application and implementation, Egypt. It appears these meetings will be closed, beginning on the fourth afternoon of the PrepCom, so NGOs will not be able to attend.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 2 of the PrepCom

The Chair of the PrepCom announced that he intended to convene an informal meeting on the morning of Friday 16 July in order to hear the views of relevant, accredited NGOs. He also reiterated that the PrepCom meetings in 2011 would take place during one week in 28 February to 4 March 2011, and for a second week in 11-15 July 2011.

Government statements to the second morning of the Prepcom

Bangladesh stated that the ATT should reflect and respect the right of States to self-defence. It should also promote the duty of States under the UN Charter to promote human rights. The treaty should cover all conventional weapons, including parts and components, dual-use goods, and ammunition. Imported arms should not be handed over "to any political group or insurgent groups."

Colombia declared that it was supporting an ATT and noted that the treaty should regulate small arms and light weapons. The treaty should facilitate compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law as well as with the UN Charter. Weapons should not be transferred to non-State actors.

Belarus noted the need for clear criteria and clear objectives. It argued the main focus should be the illegal delivery and manufacture of weapons.

Belgium again spoke on behalf of the European Union, noting that the objective and purpose of the treaty should be defined, for instance in the preamble, based on the content of the three UN resolutions on the ATT. Detailed definitions should be included in an annex to the treaty. A section of the treaty should be devoted to the criteria for assessing whether to authorise a transfer of conventional weapons. An ATT should include a follow-up mechanism (e.g. meetings of States Parties and review conferences).

Surinam spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It noted the link between illicit arms transfers and the drugs trade. It called for the treaty to include ammunition and should cover diversion and re-export. It argued for the establishment of a treaty secretariat to monitor the implementation of the treaty.

New Zealand stated that the treaty should represent minimum standards and should be broad in scope. It was doubtful about including dual-use items. Using an annex would enable flexibility. Certain principles were important to include in the treaty, such as setting out the aim and need for an ATT; the right of States to defend themselves; and transparency.

Uruguay declared its support for covering the weapons included in the UN Register of Conventional Weapons, but should not omit other new conventional weapons being used today. It should prohibit transfers of weapons to non-State actors.

Brazil stated the treaty should require effective national implementation measures.

Trinidad and Tobago declared a comprehensive ATT would have the potential to save lives. A critical element of the treaty was the notion of State responsibility.

Israel set out a number of elements that could usefully be included in an ATT, such as a national regulatory framework.

Switzerland stated its support for a comprehensive ATT. It should at least cover the seven categories under the UN Register, SALW, and related technologies.

Canada stated its view that an ATT should be flexible, perhaps using an annex, and should draw on existing internationally agreed definitions as far as possible. It should cover SALW, parts, and ammunition should be included in the treaty, while acknowledging a legitimate use of firearms, for instance in hunting.

India cautioned against assumptions that an ATT is feasible. It stated that, for example, no country had legislation authorising transfers of weapons to terrorists. It questioned the role of any monitoring body (as well as the cost). It called for clarity of purpose of the treaty. Is it balancing commercial considerations, or is it about alleviating human suffering? It called for the PrepCom to "avoid unnecessary enthusiasm". Any treaty should not include dual-use technology. It should clearly distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate transfers and should cover both supply and demand issues. It was also important to bring in subjective criteria, such as what constitutes a human rights violation.

South Korea noted the particular importance of covering brokering in the ATT.

Mexico stated that the treaty should be flexible and should consider the potential users of weapons.

South Africa declared support for an ATT covering all conventional weapons, SALW, and related technologies. The possibility of including dual-use items and brokering should be considered further. Definitions would be needed of export, import, transfer, transshipment, and brokering. Some form of compliance measures would be needed, such as the CWC, BWC and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Peru stated its particular concern about the availability of sophisticated weapons in low-intensity armed conflicts of a non-international character.

The morning meeting ended a little early to enable the Chair to conduct further consultations.

Side Event: “A non-Fiction Story”: How can a Robust Arms Trade Treaty Support Development?

Oxfam, Norwegian Forum For Environment and Development, Instituto Sou da Paz, and Igarape in cooperation with the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs discussed the role that an ATT could play in reducing armed violence as well as helping States to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Armed violence has significantly affected 22 of 34 countries most likely to miss the MDGs in 2015.

Oxfam reported its research findings on the interrelationship between poverty, armed violence, and the international arms trade. It also presented the practical guide it has developed entitled, Applying Sustainable Development to Arms-Transfer Decisions. Specifically, the guide outlines:  
  • The legal basis and international standards for development criteria related to international arms transfers; 
  • Which development criteria could be used to enable appropriate decision-making on international arms transfers; and 
  • Guidelines to assist national licensing authorities and other government officials to apply development criteria to decisions about international arms transfers, including a set of relevant questions to consider when forming a judgement.
Integrating socio-economic development criteria into an ATT

Along with the existing legal obligations and standards pertaining to development and cooperation and assistance, a clear and consistent procedure should be put in place for determining whether there is a substantial risk that the transfer will seriously impair poverty reduction or socio-economic development to ensure that such transfers are prohibited. Arms should not be transferred where there is a substantial risk of:

1) Increasing or maintaining high levels of armed violence (nationally or regionally),
2) Undermining peacebuilding or post-conflict reconstruction,
3) Involving the excessive and unaccountable allocation of human and economic resources to armaments, and
4) the transfer involving a pattern of corruption.

See also:
Key findings of the GBAV report are that:
  1. More than 740,000 people have died directly or indirectly from armed violence—both conflict and criminal violence—every year for the last few years. More than 540,000 of these deaths are violent, with the vast majority occurring in non-conflict settings.
  2. At least 200,000 people—and perhaps many thousands more—have died each year in conflict zones from non-violent causes (such as malnutrition, dysentery, or other easily preventable diseases) that resulted from the effects of war on populations.
  3. Between 2004 and 2007 at least 208,300 violent deaths were recorded in armed conflicts— an average of 52,000 people killed per year. This is a conservative estimate including only recorded deaths: the real total may be much higher.
  4. The annual economic cost of armed violence in non-conflict settings, in terms of lost productivity due to violent deaths, is estimated to be at least US$95 billion and could be as much as $163 billion— 0.14% of the annual global GDP.
Government statements to the second afternoon of the Prepcom

Indonesia again repeated the importance of reflecting the right to maintain territorial integrity in the ATT. It asked that South Asian countries be kept abreast of, and involved in, the Chair's consultations. It said that the ATT should prohibit transfers that will provoke internal armed conflict.

Jamaica stressed the importance of including international cooperation and assistance in the ATT.

Australia on behalf of the Forum of Pacific Island States noted the importance of domestic weapons control to minimise the risk of diversion. It similarly stressed the importance of "States in a position to do so" providing international cooperation and assistance.

Morocco again noted the rights to self-defence and to maintain territorial integrity. The raison d'être for the treaty is to curb violence, by applying international humanitarian law more effectively. It should also address the "overmilitarisation of non-State actors". It noted international cooperation and assistance and regional cooperation. The treaty should be capable of evolving with advances in weapons technology.

Mongolia stressed the importance of providing for transparency in the treaty, while respecting the States' right to self-defence. 

The USA stated its objective was to ensure that any ATT would significantly impede unregulated trade in conventional weapons. It sought a broad definition of arms to be covered by the treaty, as well as parts, components, and related technologies. It is not in favour of including dual-use goods in the treaty. "Transfer" should be defined to include import, export, transshipment, transfer of control and title, and brokering. National sanctions for violations of the ATT should include civil, criminal, and administrative penalties. Appropriate criteria for authorising transfers could include:

- applicable international law,
- existing international obligations and commitments of both sending and recipient States,
- consistency with existing international agreements,
- impact on regional stability,
- potential for unauthorised third party transfer or unauthorised diversion,
- human rights, proliferation and terrorist records of the recipient, and risk of misuse, and
- the risk of political impacts.

Australia, speaking on its own behalf, stated its view that SALW, ammunition, and parts should be included in the treaty, as well as allowing for future developments to be covered. The ATT should cover the broadest range of activities possible. There should be State responsibility for arms transfers.

Costa Rica also noted the importance of international cooperation and assistance.

India called for a common understanding of the objectives of an ATT.

China declared that the ATT should be targeted rather than contain broad general issues. Sensitive or controversial issues should be avoided. Arms should not be provided to non-State actors.

In concluding the discussions, the Chair stated that he would present a first paper on the elements of a future ATT on the third morning of the PrepCom. He would then ask delegations to present on the principles to be reflected in the treaty.

List of Statements

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 1 of the PrepCom

The Opening of the PrepCom

12 July 2010. The first day of the first Preparatory Committee for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) opened today at the United Nations in New York. There are four PrepComs planned in 2010-2012 according to UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48 (The arms trade treaty), leading to a four-week-long Diplomatic Conference in 2012 to "elaborate" the treaty. Operative Paragraph 7 of the resolution calls for the PrepComs to make recommendations to the Diplomatic Conference on the "elements that would be needed to attain an effective and balanced legally binding international instrument on the highest common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms."

NGO participation

One issue that was not agreed on in the resolution was the extent to which NGOs would be able to participate in the preparatory work for the future ATT. This issue was resolved on the first morning with the adoption of draft decision A/CONF.217/PC/L.2, which allows not only NGOs with ECOSOC accreditation to attend the "open meetings" of the PrepCom, but also other "interested" NGOs whose work "is relevant to the scope and purpose of the Conference" provided that the PrepCom does not object. In addition, representatives of accredited NGOs will be allowed to address the PrepCom "during one meeting specifically allocated for that purpose".

Government statements to the first morning of the prepcom

A number of introductory statements were delivered during the first morning, several notable by the lack of any reference to the aim of enhancing compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, noted that Member States "have committed themselves to concluding a 'strong and robust' treaty, which provides assurances of a meaningful process."

Belgium delivered a statement on behalf of the European Union in which it stated that the development of an ATT "is a priority that the international community cannot ignore." It called for the PrepCom to focus on the "structure" of a future treaty. It also noted that a number of countries "still retain some concerns and reservation about the relevance of an Arms Trade Treaty. These are legitimate positions, but they should not be used to indefinitely delay the incipient negotiating process."

Nigeria delivered a statement on behalf of the African Union in which it pointed out that: "While not being among the major producers and exporters of conventional weapons in the world, many African States ... suffer disproportionately the pernicious effects of irresponsible transfer of arms ... ." It called notably for the future ATT to contain "a clear prohibition of transfers to unauthorized non-State actors."

Switzerland stressed three elements in the context of the treaty that it considered particularly important:
  • compliance of arms transfers with existing international obligations, international humanitarian law and human rights and the influence of arms transfers on the maintenance of international peace and security as well as regional and sub-regional stability;
  • transparency wwith regard to licences granted and denied and arms imported; and
  • a monitoring mechanism to collate and analyse information provided by future States Parties.
The United Kingdom pointed out the need not to "underestimate the challenge" of negotiating an ATT, noting that "the devil is in the detail". It called for the following elements to be included in an ATT:
  • a preamble to set out the rationale and goals of the treaty;
  • a provision on general obligations;
  • a provision on the scope of application of the treaty, including the types of conventional weapons and transfers to be regulated by it;
  • a national authorisation system and the assessment process that should take place before any authorisation takes place;
  • clarification of how the treaty relates to other international agreements;
  • transparency provisions (regular reporting and a mechanism for information exchange);
  • verification and compliance provisions;
  • a mechanism for consultation and for dispute settlement;
  • annual or biannual meetings of States Parties; and
  • provisions on relations between States Parties and States not party to the future treaty.
Small Arms Survey side event: Better Understanding the Trade in Small Arms 

The Small Arms Survey presented the results of research into the global trade in small arms and light weapons at the German Permanent Mission to the UN. Noting significant gaps in data, they nonetheless concluded that the trade was worth more than US$4 billion in 2006. One State, the USA, was responsible for almost 40% of all military firearms exports in that year with nine other States accounting for a further 35%. At the same time, it was observed that very little was known about the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite the region seeing the highest number of deaths from armed conflict. It concluded that "sensitive trades" had a low (relative) financial value.

The situation with respect to small arms ammunition is less transparent, although it is estimated that the value of trade was some US$1.77 billion in 2007. Even less is known about light weapons ammunition transfers (e.g. of grenades, mortar rounds up to 120mm, man-portable rockets), although the trade is estimated to be worth some $2.5 billion. Ammunition is not covered by the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Government statements to the afternoon session of the first day of the PrepCom

The Russian Federation stated that all States were united in a determination to ensure weapons that did not end up in the wrong hands (e.g. gangs, criminals, and terrorists) through illicit trafficking. It noted that a weak instrument, even if universally adopted, would not be a step forward as it might legitimise existing poor practice. At the same time, it declared it was "premature to speak now of a legally binding ATT. The status of a final document, as it seems [sic], should be defined by its content."

Norway declared that it was a strong supporter of the ATT process but called for clear identification of the goals of the future ATT. For Norway, it should seek to reduce armed violence and promote effective implementation of international humanitarian law and human rights. Norway believes that the scope of application of the treaty should be wide, covering all conventional weapons and ammunition unless they are specifically excepted. Criteria for prohibiting arms transfers should be based on the fact or likelihood that weapons will be used to violate IHL or human rights, or that they are likely to be re-exported or diverted such as to do so. Norway also called for the rights of victims of armed violence to be included in the treaty.

Japan noted particularly the need to consider transfers to States not parties.

China stated it was in favour of international action on illicit transfer of arms. Legal transfers, it believes, promote the right to self-defence and to security. It reiterated the need for consensus on decision-making. China said it has never authorised transfers to non-State entities.

France stated that the statements made so far were "extremely positive". It called for a treaty that was flexible enough to be amended in the future.

Iran stressed the need for consensus in all decisions, in recognition of a State's legitimate right to defend itself. Any information provision under the treaty should be voluntary.

Morocco also noted the need for respect for right of self-defence and territorial integrity of States and stressed the importance of consensus in decision-making. It referred to a problem of safeguarding borders in West Africa to prevent illicit transfers, notably to non-State actors. 

The USA stated it was prepared to work for strong international standards to govern the arms trade. It was an "absolute requirement" to have a positive outcome and the treaty should be "a floor not a ceiling". It noted that national implementation was key to the successful implementation of the future treaty. It stated that transfers are a "sovereign" decision and blanket prohibitions were not appropriate. The treaty must cover all conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons but also larger "more destabilising" weaponry. The USA believes that transparency will be an essential element in making the treaty work -- by both importer and exporter.

Nigeria called for the treaty to cover all seven categories of conventional arms included on the UN Register, as well as small arms and light weapons and ammunition.

Libya believed that small arms and ammunition should be dealt with separately.

The Netherlands noted that the treaty should be a minimum standard. On scope, it favoured the widest possible scope, including transfers of components, ammunition, and technologies. Transparency, it stated, is essential.

List of Statements