Pope Francis delivered a powerful address to the US Congress this week where he denounced those responsible for the irresponsible arms trade:
“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”
These strong words were significant in being delivered at the US Congress, since while the US is a high profile signatory of the ATT, it has yet to ratify. Control Arms calls on the US government to heed the Pope’s words and to ratify the ATT as one important step to reducing the misery caused by the poorly regulated arms trade.
The opening week of the UNGA is also an opportunity for governments to ratify or accede to the ATT, and Control Arms encourages all governments that have yet to do so to join the ATT as soon as possible.
On 4 September, Tuvalu became the 73rd State Party to the Arms Trade Treaty and is the first State to ratify the Treaty following the first Conference of State Parties that took place on 24-27 August. Tuvalu has long been an active ATT supporter, being one of the first States to vote for the adoption of the treaty and signed on day it opened for signature in 2013.
The ratification of Tuvalu helps further the goal of universalization of the treaty and increases the number of States Parties from the Asia-Pacific region. Their ratification also comes on the heels of a successful workshop convened by the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG) in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 1-2 September. Last month, PSAAG published a new implementation guide for Pacific countries which joins other resources such as model legislation developed by New Zealand, that focus on assisting smaller countries to join and implement the Treaty.
Following the first Conference of States Parties, Control Arms urges other states to build on the current momentum and join to the ATT, particularly during the upcoming opening of the General Assembly in New York.
The first Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty has made progress by laying the foundations for the implementation of the Treaty, but States must show greater urgency and ambition if lives are to be saved.
Important progress was made with decisions taken on the Rules of Procedure, Financial Rules and the seat (Geneva) and head of the new ATT Secretariat (Dumisani Dladla). The conference also appointed Ambassador Emmanuel E. Imohe of Nigeria as the President of the second CSP in 2016.
However, progress made on the critical area of ATT reporting templates was disappointing. Debate continued over how comprehensive and public reports should be, with some resistant to the idea of public reporting. Consequently, an interim decision has been made on how States will report on all arms transfers with the creation of a provisional reporting template that will be trialled for 12 months and then reviewed.
The Control Arms Coalition urged States to raise their game and reflect the ambition showed when the Treaty was first adopted.
Geoffrey Duke, Head of Secretariat at South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA), speaking on behalf of Control Arms on the final day said:
“While we have been here in Cancun, peace has been agreed in South Sudan. It is too soon to be confident that my country will not slide back into civil war, but the ATT has the potential to significantly contribute to creating a better future for South Sudanese by curbing the irresponsible transfer of arms into my country.”
Anna Macdonald, Director of the Control Arms Secretariat concluded:
“States must act with greater ambition and more energy to ensure that they stop just discussing the Treaty and start applying its provisions robustly. Only then will it start to put an end to the many humanitarian crises caused by conflict around the world ”.
Click here to read our final report
The issue of transparency and whether States should make their annual reports about arms transfers public has been dominating the first Conference of States Parties.
The arms trade is currently shrouded in secrecy, which means weapons are too easily falling into the hands of those who abuse human rights abuse and diverted into the hands of criminal gangs. Under the Arms Trade Treaty, States Parties will be expected to submit annual reports about all arms imports and exports.
Control Arms campaigners highlighted their call for those reports to be made public by staging a campaign action outside the Moon Palace Convention Centre, where CSP2015 is taking place.
Diplomats from states including the UK, U.S, Norway, Costa Rica, New Zealand and many others joined the campaigners and showed their support for full and public reporting.
Roy Isbister of Saferworld said: “The issue of how open and detailed reporting will be is critical to the success of the Treaty. States have been unaccountable for too long.”
Today the Control Arms Secretariat launched a new monitoring project, the ATT Monitor, which aims to track the implementation and impact of the ATT through independent research and analysis.
The issue of how transparent States’ reports on arms transfers should be under the ATT is being hotly debated during the first Conference of States Parties, currently taking place in Cancun. Several European states are keen to limit the extent to which reports on transfers are made public.
Deep Basu Ray, ATT Monitor Co-ordinator, said: “How the treaty is interpreted and applied in its earliest years will be vital to its long-term effectiveness and we believe the ATT Monitor will provide useful information for both states and NGOs.
Issues addressed in the first report of the ATT Monitor released include analysis of circumstances in which a transfer should be denied and the risk assessment states must undertake before authorising exports.
The governments of Australia, Norway, Mexico, Austria, The Netherlands and Trinidad and Tobago co-sponsored the Launch event.
Governments highlighted the crucial role that the ATT Monitor will play in securing reporting and transparency of the Arms Trade Treaty. They also paid tribute to the work of Control Arms Coalition in the adoption and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Ambassador Jorge Lomónaco noted “The Arms Treaty Monitor is a testimony to the important contribution of Civil Society Organisations & Control Arms in particular”
You can check out the ATT Monitor here : http://Armstreatymonitor.org
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State positions and practices concerning reporting and the Arms Trade Treaty