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.
On 18 August, Montenegro became the 44th country to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty after Ambassador Milorad Šćepanović deposited their instrument of ratification at UN headquarters.
Ambassador Šćepanović stated that ”Montenegro is honoured and proud to have deposited the instrument of ratification for the Arms Trade Treaty today, becoming the 44th country to do so. Our ratification is yet another illustration of firm commitment my country has had towards the ATT and promoting responsible arms trade throughout the world. From the beginning, Montenegro has been active supporter and advocate for ATT. We were among the first to sign the Treaty. Now that we are approaching the entry into force of the ATT, we expect that this instrument will be decisive in putting an end to uncontrolled arms trade which fuels armed conflicts, thus making the real difference in lives, livelihoods and human rights of millions of people worldwide.
Montenegro will be devoted to the full and effective implementation of the ATT as well as to upholding the principles and standards enshrined by the Treaty on a global scale. Our efforts will continue in order to make sure that the Treaty truly becomes the universal one, with as broad and effective application as possible. “
The UN’s second youngest Member State has been a strong supporter of the ATT and was among the first states to sign the agreement when it opened for signature on 3 June 2012. Throughout negotiations, Montenegro took a progressive stance on many of the criteria that made the treaty a strong instrument with the potential to save lives, including on provisions on protecting human rights, ensuring strong reporting, and including ammunition in the treaty text.
Control Arms welcomes Montenegro’s entrance into the Race to 50 and of the renewed momentum in treaty ratifications over past two weeks. Control Arms urges all countries to sign and ratify the ATT as soon as possible.
The world moved two steps closer to winning the Race to 50 in the last two days. On 11 and 12 August, the Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone respectively ratified the Arms Trade Treaty. Their ratifications bring the total number to 43, just seven short of the critical 50 that will trigger entry into force.
The Dominican Republic deposited their instrument of ratification on Monday, the latest state from Latin America and the Caribbean to do so. As a transit hub for weapons and ammunition, the Dominican Republic understands the role the Arms Trade Treaty can play in stymying weapons flows to unauthorized users. The ATT’s criteria on weapons diversion, transit, and transshipment are important to island states such as the Dominican Republic.
The following day, Sierra Leone became the fourth African country to ratify the ATT. As a country that has experienced the ravages of civil war, Sierra Leone knows the devastating impact that unregulated arms can have. Throughout negotiations, Sierra Leone was a staunch support of a treaty that would truly save lives. “If there was an ATT in existence before the outbreak of our civil war in Sierra Leone, an obligation would have compelled some countries to look at the consequences of allowing arms to cross their country borders,” said Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara, Deputy Permanent Representative at the first Diplomatic Conference on the ATT in 2012.
After depositing the instrument of ratification, Ambassador Vandi Chidi Minah said that Sierra Leone “hopes for an arms free world.”
Control Arms welcomes these ratifications and encourages all States to sign and ratify the ATT as soon as possible.
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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.