So near and yet so far. After coming so close, tragically we fell at what was almost the final hurdle. And yet it had all started so well. A diplomatically adept intervention by China, the best I have ever seen by that state, set an early, positive tone. While still delivering a hard-nosed message to the European Union that wished to adhere to the future Arms Trade Treaty as a "regional integration organisation", China showed skill and good humour, even breaking into French to observe that "C'est la vie et la vie c'est ça."
The almost unbridled optimism of the early morning was, though, abruptly extinguished by an ill-timed intervention by the US, taking diplomatic naiveté to a new height by suggesting that they needed "more time". No serious, substantive objection was posed to justify this claim; only a series of drafting concerns that could have, and should have, been addressed in the remaining hours. What a sad indictment of the world's biggest arms exporter this was. Its incapacity to stay the course and negotiate an agreement that has been a decade in the making is, and should be, an embarrassment to the administration.
The breach, once made, was an open invitation to others who really didn't want an agreement, and they duly accepted it with alacrity. Russia heavily criticised the Diplomatic Conference's President, Ambassador Moritan, and called for an additional two to three weeks to conclude the negotiations. Venezuela said the document lacked balance; Cuba and Syria agreed. The trickle became a flood. So what started as a shambles, ended as a shambles. President Moritan thanked everyone and their gardener and then adopted the briefest of final reports, before accepting "full responsibility" for what was truly a personal as much as a collective failure.
Mexico intervened on behalf of more than 70 governments. He said that they believed they were "very close" to achieving their goals. They were disappointed but not discouraged. The draft treaty enjoyed the support of the overwhelming number of States as a basis for a final treaty text. Mexico reiterated the determination of these states to achieving a strong Arms Trade Treaty that would lead to a safer world for everybody.
Nigeria on behalf of the African Group called for a continuation of the process. Trinidad and Tobago expressed its "disappointment but not its dismay" at the inability to adopt a treaty today. Brazil said it was not President Moritan's fault that they had not succeeded. Côte d'Ivoire on behalf of ECOWAS regretted that the shared dream has not been fulfilled. Algeria asked for the procedure from now on, specifically with respect to the UN General Assembly. Moritan curtly noted that the final report had been adopted.
So we end without an Arms Trade Treaty. What a terrible, nay unforgivable waste of an opportunity this was. Momentum was with us. We were so very close. But the many governments that genuinely wanted an agreement and the NGOs should be proud of the progress that was made and not give in to the temptation to dwell wistfully on what might have been. In Thomas Hardy's words, "The sudden disappointment of a hope leaves a scar which the ultimate fulfillment of that hope never entirely removes." Let us strive to ensure, though, that this does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure", as Disraeli once told us.
So near and not so far, not so far at all. So it's just au revoir from us.