On the first anniversary of the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), 18 countries took a big step forward toward ensuring its rapid entry into force. These governments formally deposited their instruments of ratification at the United Nations as part of a ceremony today, and included Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The additional ratifications bring the total tally to 31. It is also noteworthy that this list includes five of the ten biggest arms exporters (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom).
50 ratifications are needed for the ATT to enter into force and become international law. The event was also attended by high ranking UN officials including the Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Virginia Gamba.
Anna Macdonald,speaking on behalf of Control Arms, said “Let us all remember that the purpose of this treaty is to save and protect lives. All of the governments ratifying here today can also act to show that these are not just words on paper, and a photo in the press. This is about change and opportunity. You can change the arms trade and really make a difference to the millions of men, women and children who suffer from armed violence and conflict every day. You have the opportunity now to lead by example.” The full text of her speech is available here.
Ambassadors from every country that ratified joined the Race to 50 campaign by having their photos taken with Control Arms coalition members at the end of the event. These have been shared widely on social media and are available here.
Control Arms is pleased to announce the appointment of Anna Macdonald as the new Director of the coalition’s Secretariat. Anna brings many years of experience in campaigning, advocacy, and policy to the role, through her almost 20 year career at Oxfam, and her leadership role as a Control Arms Co-chair.
Anna will help to lead the Control Arms Coalition in the current phase of pushing for swift entry into force of the treaty, and ensuring effective implementation.
Anna said: “I am excited to be moving into this role at a time when civil society engagement will be really important in making sure ATT implementation is effective, and that the flood of arms into war zones and the hands of human rights abusers can be stemmed. I look forward to working with colleagues from all over the world as we continue the push to bring the arms trade under control.”
Progress toward entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty has continued through the month of March, with two Balkan States leading the way. This month, both the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania both deposited their respective instruments of ratification at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Both countries were supportive of a strong Arms Trade Treaty throughout the negotiation process and Albania was among the first to sign the Treaty on 3 June, 2012, the first day the landmark agreement opened for signature. Macedonia followed soon after by adding their signature on 25 September 2013.
The Civil – Center for Freedom, a member of Control Arms, has been a leading civil society advocate of the Arms Trade Treaty in Macedonia. Xhabir Deralla, President of the organization called Macedonia’s ratification “a great legal step towards arms control in the country and internationally.” He added “now, the real challenge lays ahead, which is to make, adopt and implement proper laws and regulations in support of this new legislative measure. It remains to prompt the government and the parliament in the Republic of Macedonia to make these steps in a transparent manner and include relevant civil society organizations in the country in order to strengthen the struggle against armed violence, gun culture and arms proliferation in the country and the region.”
With the one year anniversary of the Arms Trade Treaty’s adoption approaching, it is apparent that momentum toward entry into force is building. Control Arms encourages all countries to follow direction set by Macedonia, Albania, and other ratifying countries and take action as soon as possible.
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.
For more facts on the arms trade and the ATT: click here.
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.
Click here for more stories from the Control Arms campaign!
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.