Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, signed the Arms Trade Treaty at the UN on June 10, 2013. In doing so, Slovakia becomes the 72nd signatory of this treaty – the first of this kind designed to regulate and monitor international trade and transfer of arms and military technologies. Minister Lajčák met with Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O´Brien and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, with whom he discussed current issues of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation of WMD. During the talks, the Minister confirmed the full engagement and the ongoing support of the Slovak Republic for the main objectives of this agenda. “I consider it necessary to stress the importance of the pressing need for the ratification of the treaty in such a way that it comes into practice as soon as possible,” said the head of Slovak diplomacy.
The Treaty represents an important historic milestone in the regulation and monitoring of the global trade in this sphere. The Slovak Republic actively cooperated on the wording of the Treaty, which aims to adopt general, strong, and legally binding norms able to effectively regulate the global arms trade. The quintessential aim is to prevent arms delivery to unauthorized persons in conflict areas or terrorist and criminal organizations.
Just days before the Arms Trade Treaty opened for signature at the United Nations parliamentarians from multiple African nations came together in a forward-looking workshop that considered the crucial role that legislators will play in the next phase of the ATT process.
Organized by Control Arms Steering Board Member Parliamentarians for Global Action and hosted by the Parliament of Tanzania, the two day meeting (29 – 30 May) brought together a total of 30 participants in Dar es Salaam that also included Ambassadors and representatives from Norway, Finland, the United States and the United Nations.
Significantly, the workshop produced a Dar es Salaam Plan of Action that identifies the key next steps and necessary measures that all parliamentarians should take to promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Read more about the workshop here.
Liberia joined the now 70 states that have made history this week at the UN, signing the ATT. Other States to sign the Treaty today were El Salvador and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Control Arms was honoured to meet Nobel Laureate President Sirleaf today, who has been a personal champion of the ATT. Her statement during July’s Diplomatic Conference (watch here) was the catalyst for many other African states to take to the floor to push for a robust treaty to be agreed.
History was made on Monday 3 June 2013, as 67 states, more than a third of UN member states, signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at a Signing Ceremony at the UN in New York. This is a very positive start to have so many states signing, so soon after the treaty adoption only two months ago. Many more states, including the USA said they would sign the treaty as soon as possible, and we are confident that over 100 states will have signed before the end of the year. The Vice-President of Costa Rica was the first to address the ceremony,
“This treaty now makes governments take responsibility for every arms transfer that enters or leaves their territory, and requires they put human rights and humanitarian law, not profit, at the heart of every decision. Too many lives have been lost to armed violence – today’s ceremony marks a new dawn,” Allison Pytlak, Campaign Manager for Control Arms, said.
States that lined up to sign the Treaty – which is designed to protect millions living in daily fear of armed violence and at risk of rape, assault, displacement and death, included major arms exporters like the UK, France, Germany and Italy, and emerging exporters such as Mexico and Brazil.
Government after government praised the role of civil society in achieving the ATT, and recognized that we will also play a crucial role in the effective implementation and monitoring of the treaty. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the ATT shows what can be achieved when civil society and governments work together, and Norwegian Minister Gry Larsen thanked civil society for our “relentless, professional and effective efforts” towards the treaty..
Reflecting the campaign’s crucial role in the long road to seeing this Treaty signed, Control Arms co-chair Anna Macdonald spoke on behalf of the coalition on the panel to officially open the ceremony. In a rousing speech she reminded governments the real impact of the Arms Trade Treaty, saying: “The most powerful argument for the ATT has always been the call of the millions who have suffered from armed violence around the world. “Survivors of armed violence, representatives of whom are here today, have played a major part in this campaign. Their suffering and experiences are the reason we are all here, and their courage and determination has been the inspiration to keep pursuing this goal.”
Control Arms campaigners took photos of delegations after they signed the treaty, and shared these on twitter. You can see photos here, and join in on twitter with the #Armstreaty and #Timetosign hashtags.
After 10 years of campaigning for the Arms Trade Treaty, it was a time for Control Arms campaigners – whether in New York or watching online from around the world – to pause to take pride in everything we have achieved.
“Change does not happen only in the UN or parliaments. Change happens when we work together on a shared goal and put aside our differences for a common good. Change happens from workplaces, from schools, from universities, and from our own homes, when we refuse to take no for an answer, and keep going,” Anna said, capturing the spirit of this campaign.
“So to everyone around the world who has supported this campaign – thank you for all you have done. This has been a global movement and you have all contributed. Thank you for making this happen.”
Read the full text of Anna’s opening statement here.
The Vice President of Costa Rica, H.E. Alfio Piva has announced that he will personally sign the Arms Trade Treaty when it opens for signature on 3 June.
Costa Rica has long been a champion of a strong and robust Treaty. It is one of the co-authors of the original 2006 UNGA resolution that started the ATT process. During the negotiations, Costa Rica strongly advocated for the inclusion of a development criteria. Although development was not incorporated into the Treaty, their efforts helped to raise the profile of the relationship between armed violence and development. In addition, they have played a vital role in gaining support for the ATT among other Central American countries through both their mission in New York as well as outreach to national capitals.
“On June 3, we will gather in New York, the very city where it all began 16 years ago, to write the final chapter of this long negotiation process. With each signature added to the Arms Trade Treaty, the destiny of humankind will change forever,” stated Vice President Piva.
Control Arms congratulates Costa Rica for their leadership throughout the process as well as the strong signal of commitment that they are showing by sending their Vice President to sign the Treaty.