Ambassador Geir Pedersen, the Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, deposited Norway’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) instrument of ratification at UN headquarters today, making the northern European nation the eleventh country to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.
Control Arms had the opportunity to sit down with Ambassador Pedersen moments before the ratification took place. In the interview, the Ambassador spoke about the importance of the ATT. “We see in the Central African Republic, in South Sudan, in Mali, and in other places how important it is that… we have a regime in place that will hinder the export of weapons to places where there is a threat not only of human rights violations, but possible genocide,” Pedersen said.
Norway has been heralded as a progressive champion of the historic Treaty since negotiations began at the First Preparatory Committee meeting at the United Nations in 2010. From the outset, Norway argued that any potential treaty should be comprehensive and maintain human rights and humanitarian law as the fundamentals for arms transfer decisions. Their ratification acts as a further testament to their commitment to lead by example for the multilateral agreement that has the potential to save countless lives through international arms trade controls.
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Control Arms has had an active presence in Norway since the launch of the campaign. Siri Luthen, Senior Adviser at Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment (ForUM), said “as one of the countries that has been the driving force behind ATT, Norway must continue its important work and take an active role in efforts to ratify and implement the agreement. Norway must support the agreement in international forums and initiate strict interpretations of the text.”
Hilde Wallacher of Norwegian Church Aid also added that “If the treaty is to make a real difference it is crucial that countries like Norway take a proactive role in the work to ratify and implement it… so that human lives and human dignity trump the wishes of the arms industry for more export.”
With Norway’s action, the Arms Trade Treaty is one step closer to achieving the necessary ratifications for entry into force. Control Arms welcomes the decision and encourages all countries to join Norway in ratifying the ATT as soon as possible.
The Arms Trade Treaty was agreed on in 2013 and is the first global attempt to regulate the international trade of weapons and keep them out of the hands of human rights abusers, war criminals, and other dangerous users. To view the full text of the ATT, click here.
Panama capped off the first ten countries to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) when it submitted its instrument of ratification at the United Nations in New York on 11 February.
“This latest ratification shows the commitment from the Latin American region to ensuring that the ATT enters into force as soon as possible. We are now looking forward to seeing the rest of the region ratify” said Maria Pia Devoto of Associacion Para Publicas in Argentina and a regional coordinator for Control Arms.
For a transit country and trading hub such as Panama, the ATT can help to prevent destabilizing arms transfers by reinforcing regulating in places where the weapons might become vulnerable to diversion. Earlier this week, for example, the three highest ranking crew members of a North Korean ship detained near the Panama Canal for holding Cuban weapons were charged with weapons trafficking. The ship was seized in July for smuggling Soviet-era arms, including two MiG-21 aircraft, under 10,000 tons of sugar.
Control Arms congratulates Panama on ratifying the Treaty, the third country in Central America to do so.
Control Arms made further progress on developing a civil society monitoring regime for the Arms Trade Treaty when it convened a two-day meeting of experts in Geneva, Switzerland last week. The meeting brought together over 30 experts from government, the United Nations, civil society and research institutes to review a draft proposal developed by Control Arms consultants in recent months. The proposal, which builds upon consultations with more than 40 key actors, considers all major aspects of a future monitor including its role, scope, research sources/methodology, format, editorial oversight, staffing, budget and relationship to Control Arms. These same topics formed the basis of discussion at the meeting last week.
The two days were highly productive and will help Control Arms to better clarify and identify the purpose of a monitor and to refine many of the topics referenced in the draft proposal. It was clear that everyone present agreed on the need for a civil society monitor on ATT universalization and implementation, and also its importance in improving transparency and accountability.
Control Arms will now review the input received at the meeting and move toward finalizing a project concept in the coming months, with the goal of launching an initial monitoring report at the first Conference of States Parties.
2013 was a year of highlights in the area of international arms control. The Arms Trade Treaty finally became a reality as 115 countries signed the landmark agreement and 9 countries officially submitted their ratification at the United Nations. On 9 January 2014, Malawi became the first to take action on the ATT in the new year. Ambassador Charles Msosa, Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations, officially signed the treaty on behalf of his country becoming the 116th country to do so.
Malawi was a strong and consistent supporter of including small arm and light weapons (SALW) in the Treaty’s scope, as seen through speeches made in the lead up to the first Diplomatic Conference in July 2012 and support for joint statements during negotiations. The inclusion of SALW was one of the major wins for supporters of a strong ATT.
With the start of a new calendar year, Control Arms hopes to see many other countries sign – and ratify – the Treaty. 2013 was the year it was adopted, but 2014 can be the year it enters into force.
The Republic of Mali, one of the Arms Trade Treaty’s earliest champions, became the ninth country to ratify the Treaty on 6 December in New York.
Mali’s support for the ATT goes back to 2003 when it joined with Cambodia, Costa Rica and the Control Arms coalition in calling for a legally binding treaty to regulate the global arms trade. The implications of the ATT for Mali are significant. Many of the weapons now circulating there have come by way of Libya. They came from stocks built up by Colonel Gaddhafi over 40 years of excessive arms buying, and from stocks sent illicitly to aid the uprising against him. Mali is also victim of arms trafficking across the wider Sahel region. This kind of proliferation and diversion is exactly what the ATT will prevent.
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The United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs has just released a publication titled “Arms Trade Treaty: Signature and Ratification.” This brochure acts as a step by step guide that describes the procedures that States must follow in order to sign, ratify, accept, approve, or accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Click here to read the full brochure.