Two more countries became States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) recently – Mauritius and Niger. This brings the total number of States Parties to 71, with more expected to ratify or accede ahead of the first Conference of States Parties (CSP) next month.
Mauritius submitted its instrument of accession on 23 July. The island country has reason to be vigilant about regulating the arms trade and particularly the actions of brokers after an arms trafficking network was discovered there in 2012, during the first ATT negotiating conference. The government quickly took action to shut down the network. Niger signed the ATT in March 2014, and submitted their instrument of ratification on 27 July. Located in the Sahel region, which has seen greater movement and availability of small arms light weapons since the conflict in Libya and more recently, in Mali, Niger has recently stepped up its efforts to mark and register weapons in order to reduce illicit trafficking.
Control Arms welcomes Mauritius and Niger as States Parties and continues to encourage other governments to join the Treaty. Governments will meet in Mexico from 24-27 August for the first CSP at which important decisions will be taken as to how the Treaty will be implemented and administered in future.
Campaigners and governments from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland from 6-8 July for the final preparatory meeting for the first Conference of States Parties (CSP) for the Arms Trade Treaty. The three day meeting was a critical moment with the potential for taking decisions to make the ATT’s First Conference of States Parties a success. The results of the meeting unfortunately feel short of the ambitious goals. With the exception of what appeared to be agreement in principle on a set of rules to govern the first CSP, it was determined that issues of reporting, financial rules, and the ATT Secretariat required more time for discussion.
Throughout the conference, civil society working in support of the ATT advocated for strong principles and practical decisions that would produce effective ATT implementation. Calls to action for transparency in reporting, rejecting a decision-delaying deferment clause in the rules, and allowing full participation as Observers for the Control Arms Coalition were met at times with opposition from many of the large arms exporting countries. See below for the full NGO statements.
In the interim period between the Geneva meeting and the First Conference of States Parties to be held from 24 – 26 August in Cancún, governments must make substantial progress on a variety of substantive areas or risk weak ATT implementation.
Click here for the full Control Arms summary and analysis of the Geneva preparatory meeting.
Governments, members of civil society, and UN officials have gathered in Geneva for the final preparatory meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty. The event is the final in a series of informal and formal meetings, meant to agree on the details of how the Arms Trade Treaty is implemented and how the Treaty’s First Conference of States Parties (CSP) will operate. These discussions will focus on four specific elements of the ATT: rules of procedure for the CSP, financing mechanisms, reporting obligations, and the ATT’s Secretariat and will run from 6 July through 8 July.
Previous meetings in Vienna, Port of Spain, Germany, and Mexico City have led the process to a point where governments can take appropriate decisions that enable the ATT to be implemented in a way that achieves its original purpose: to protect human rights and save lives. Control Arms will have an active presence in Geneva and will be calling on governments to take common sense decisions that will put the ATT in a position to deliver results for the millions on the ground that depend on a change in the “business as usual approach” to the irresponsible arms trade.
Perhaps the most important decision that must be taken regards the rules of procedure for the First CSP. For some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, strong rules can literally be the difference between life and death. Certain proposals have been issued that could see decisions delayed for up to a year. Other proposals feature a step backward toward consensus-based decision making. Governments took a principled stand against positions like these to agree on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2013. In order for the instrument to succeed, they must continue to show leadership by giving the ATT the tools it needs to be effective.
For live updates from Geneva, follow @controlarms on Twitter.
Five decisions governments can take to help ensure an effective ATT:
1. Decision Making:
Ensure there is an effective majority-based decision making process established for all procedural, substantive, and financial issues, and with no deferral mechanisms.
Ensure comprehensive, regular, and transparent reporting that enables the highest possible standard, not the lowest common denominator.
Guarantee that NGOs working to ensure effective ATT implementation are able to participate fully as observers in the CSPs.
4. ATT Secretariat
Establish an independent and proactive ATT Secretariat, adequately resourced to enable support for ATT implementation, with staff appointments based on merit.
5. Strong standard
Apply the provisions of the ATT consistently and robustly to prevent human suffering caused by irresponsible arms transfers.
Peru signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on September 24, 2013. Although this was a monumental step for the Treaty, ratification is critical in order to integrate the goals of the ATT into widespread practice. The Institute of Security and Human Rights (ISDH) with support from Control Arms, implemented the “In the Final Stretch,” program to encourage Peru to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.
In order to raise awareness within the nation, ISDH held the National Initiative Group on the rights of the child (GIN) on 29 May 2015 which integrated help and training from other organizations whose missions are to teach the importance of access prevention and arms control to children and teenagers.
In addition, ISDH organized a press conference as part of a media and awareness campaign to gain momentum for ATT support in Peru. The conference consisted of field experts and important leaders, such as the president of the National Congress, and it called upon the congress to include the plenary ratification as part of the congressional agenda.
The success of the press conference was evident in the immediate positive response from the media; the relevance of the ATT is evident in the rise in fire arms related crimes being presented in the daily news. Currently, there is support for ratification of the ATT in four of the parties in Peru- Unión Parlamentaria, Fuerza Popular, Gana Perú, and Perú Posible. With the continued work of partners like ISDH and the widespread support of government officials, the possibility of ratification in the near future remains promising.
As the last preparatory meeting is coming up in Geneva in July 2015, Control Arms, joined efforts with Permanent Peace Movement/ Lebanon (PPM) to promote the ATT in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region during the month of May. So far, six countries belonging to the League of Arab States have signed ATT, but none have ratified. Tunisia and Jordan, two Arab states that have shown a positive interest in the treaty, have not yet signed it.
For this reason, Control Arms supported an ATT advocacy project in Tunisia and Jordan implemented by Permanent Peace Movement. In Tunis, cooperating partner, the Free Tunisia Association, presided by Hazem Ksouri organized a round table conference on 28 May 2015 as part of a media and advocacy campaign for ATT. Approximately 50 persons from the media, civil society, research centers, law, business and government attended the round table conference on 28 May 2015.
In Jordan, Permanent Peace Movement met with Jordanian officials from the Ministry of Interior (Human Rights Department), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (International organizations department) and the parliament (Committee of Legal Affairs ).
Those met with in both countries consider the instability that the MENA region is witnessing at this time, as a big threat to their national as well as regional security, not to mention that both countries are fighting extremism within their own borders. Due to these national and regional security challenges, both Tunisia and Jordan are currently reluctant to sign the treaty.
However, in Tunisia there are possibilities to cooperate with members of parliament and civil society for future arms control projects and advocacy activities. In Jordan, the parliament seems to be ready to sign ATT, but lobbying efforts have to be directed towards the government.
Click here for more stories from the Control Arms campaign!
State positions and practices concerning reporting and the Arms Trade Treaty