In just over one year, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has made history again by achieving the 50 ratifications necessary to activate entry-into-force. At a High Level event at the United Nations today, eight states – Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay – deposited their instruments of ratification, bringing the overall total to 53.
Exceeding the 50th ratification has now triggered a 90 day countdown towards entry-into-force, which will happen on 24th December. At this point the ATT will become international law. This rapid achievement demonstrates the high level of strong political leadership and commitment toward the ATT, as well as the dynamic role played by civil society through the Control Arms Race to 50.
To mark this accomplishment Control Arms has launched a new webpage: 50 celebrating 50. The webpage features photos and quotes from 50 individuals from across civil society, government and the UN whose input was important in the securing of the ATT.
Check out the webpages here in English, Spanish or French, and add your own story.
Today’s High Level event was convened by Saint Lucia’s Alva R. Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, and included speeches from Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and Anna Macdonald on behalf of Control Arms.
“The most important message today is that the imminent entry into force of the ATT presents the chance to change the arms trade. The chance to change the unconstrained flood of arms and ammunition into the world’s worst conflict zones. The chance to change the culture of ‘if we don’t sell them, someone else will’.” Anna Macdonald
Read Anna’s full speech here.
Each of the ratifying States also spoke about the importance of the ATT entering into the force. Mexico, as host of the First Conference of States Parties, and Iceland, the first State to ratify also delivered speeches on the potential impact the Treaty can have.
“With wide acceptance and well planned implementation the Treaty will reduce arms flows to conflict regions, terrorists, pirates and other criminals. The treaty will help prevent violations of human rights, humanitarian law by use of arms against civilians and prevent gender based violence. The Treaty will foster peace, security and development.” Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland.
There were also new signatories to the ATT this week: Georgia, Namibia and Ukraine, bringing total signatures to 121.
Contributing to 50 Celebrating 50 will help us to promote the important message to governments that the ATT entering into force is a #chance2change the arms trade. We encourage everyone who has been a part of the campaign to add your voice.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) today as part of his visit to the opening of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Control Arms welcomes Ukraine joining the Treaty and urges them to begin the ratification process as soon as possible. The ATT, once ratified and implemented, will reduce the flow of weapons into – as well as out of – the country, which will ultimately help make Ukraine a safer place. Ukraine is among the top 10 arms exporters in the world and in the past, has been involved in many high-profile, controversial arms transfers, particularly to Sub-Saharan Africa. As an arms producer, and owner of a significant stockpile of weapons from Soviet days, the Ukraine also regularly plays a brokering role.
Ukraine is the 119th country to sign the ATT, with further signatories expected later this week.
Informal consultations on the Arms Trade Treaty’s First Conference of States Parties (CSP) were held in Mexico City from 9 – 10 September. The two day meeting was attended by over 70 signatory and ratifying governments from around the world and marked the first step in a preparatory process that will determine how the First CSP will operate. The CSP will be critical in ensuring that the ATT is implemented to a high standard and has a real impact on the ground for the millions facing the dire consequences of conflict and armed violence around the world.
Civil society that has been actively promoting the ATT were also invited to attend, and 22 representatives from across the Control Arms Coalition participated, contributing ideas and perspectives to the meeting.
Dr. Bob Mtonga, speaking for Control Arms stressed the need for strong implementation of the treaty saying “the success of this Treaty will be judged by the lives saved. It is therefore essential that it is implemented to the highest possible standard and that a new, very strong, global norm is established that makes transfers that violate the Treaty’s provisions are unacceptable.” Irma Pérez-Gil stressed the importance of provisional application of Articles 6 and 7 by those governments who have already ratified, before the Treaty enters into force. Other colleagues spoke on the need for effective decision making structures, fair and efficient financing mechanisms and a Secretariat that will enable strong implementation of the ATT.
ATT Legal also provided two papers which analyze the rules of procedure of other Conferences of States Parties with regard to decision making and participation. You can see the papers here.
Control Arms welcomes the informal consultations as a productive first step toward the CSP and calls on all government who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. 50 ratifications are expected to be achieved during the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week later in September.
Photo credit: Fundación Arias para La Paz y Progresso Humano
In 2003 when the Control Arms Campaign was launched, Costa Rica was the first country to support the idea of an Arms Trade Treaty. Today, President Luis Guillermo Solís delivers a message in support of the final stages of the Race to 50. With just 5 countries needed to ratify before the 50 mark is reached, President Solís urges all countries to sign and ratify as soon as possible to help enable “humanity’s most beautiful cause, the achievement of peace”.
New Zealand has become the 45th country to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty and put the world in a prime position to realize entry into force within the year. Ambassador Jim McLay had the honor of depositing the instrument of ratification on behalf of his country at UN headquarters on 2 September.
New Zealand was among the most supportive advocates of the ATT and fought to ensure the strongest treaty possible during the negotiation process.
New Zealand’s ratification coincides with a visit by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to New Zealand. On this occasion Foreign Minister Murray McCully commented that the ATT was a major step forward in global efforts to reduce the harm caused by the illicit arms trade.
New Zealand is now the third member of the Pacific to ratify the treaty after ratifications by Australia and Samoa earlier in 2014. Minister McCully commented that not only had New Zealand supported the Treaty from its inception, but it had developed a model law to assist Pacific states, and small states in other regions, to implement the Treaty. The Minister also noted that, once in force, it was hoped the Treaty would prevent the the transfer of arms that may be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
President of Parliamentarians for Global Action, and New Zealand Member of Parliament, Ross Robertson says his country can play a significant role in bolstering the treaty participation of other countries in the region, telling a meeting of diplomats, politicians and officials at the New Zealand Parliament: “Since World War Two, over 40 million people have died in wars. Ongoing events in Syria, Ukraine and Iraq continue to highlight the real urgency in making the ATT a robust reality at the earliest opportunity” He called on the government to share it’s legislation widely among UN member states, and in particular with neighboring states in the Pacific islands.”
With the total number of Arms Trade Treaty ratifications now at 45, the world is set to win the Race to 50, and earn the chance to change the global arms trade forever.
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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.
The Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty is led by the World Council of Churches. Through letter writing and in-person advocacy, the campaign has been able to express to governments in all global regions the need for a treaty with a “human scope”. It includes approximately 60 representatives of churches, related agencies and faith networks in 30 countries and highlights the important role that local religious communities can play in bringing the human condition to the negotiations for a strong and effective ATT and beyond.
Visit www.armstreatynow.org to learn more.