Multiple states are signing and ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) this week before it enters into force on 24 December. There are now 128 signatories and 60 ratifications.
Saint Kitts and Nevis, followed by Liechtenstein, deposited their instruments of ratification at the UN earlier this week. On Wednesday 17th, Poland became the 58th country to ratify. Ambassador Bogusław Winid deposited the instrument on behalf of his country stating that, “We are proud that Poland is among the co-founders of the ATT and that its provisions will become binding for us on December 24. Poland hopes that the Treaty will help prevent serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law standards related to the reduction of suffering of the civilians in armed conflict. We hope that ATT will play an important role in the fight against international terrorism and organized crime. ”
Upon depositing Lithuania’s instrument of ratification on Thursday, December 17th, Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė said, “It is our firm belief that transparency in arms trade is indispensable if we are to achieve the key purpose of the ATT – reducing human suffering. We made this our priority during the negotiations and will continue to strongly advocate for shinning more light on arms trade, in particular, through public reporting and supporting civilian society led monitoring.” The Netherlands also deposited on Thursday. Control Arms members there took the opportunity to congratulate their government and remind them that “words are not enough, now is time for action.”
Andorra, Israel, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zimbabwe are among the newest signatories to the ATT. Once the Treaty enters into force it will no longer be possible for governments to sign and instead they will be required to accede, a two-step process. The Treaty’s entry into force is a significant milestone. Its provisions will now become legally binding. Occurring just eighteen months after it opened for signature means that the ATT is one of the fastest multilateral arms agreements to enter into force. Control Arms congratulates all governments who have signed and ratified the Treaty so far and looks forward to welcoming others.
A second round of informal consultations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) First Conference of States Parties (1CSP), hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office, took place in Berlin 27-28 November. The meeting, attended by over 70 signatory and ratifying governments, plus civil society and UN agencies represented the next step in a preparatory process toward the first CSP.
The consultations built on discussions that began in Mexico City in September with a first round of informal meetings, as well as the ideas outlined in a series of non-papers developed by several states in the interim. This facilitated decision-making on a few key points. The timeline for future preparatory meetings has been agreed, with the first CSP now scheduled for late August/early September 2015. Mexico’s role as the Provisional Secretariat has been confirmed, and a “Friends of the Chair” group will be formed to help manage the process through to the CSP. An Open-Ended Working Group to develop a reporting template has been established under Sweden’s guidance, while Ghana will facilitate further discussion on financing mechanisms. There is also growing agreement on decision-making procedures although differences of opinion still exist.
Unresolved, however, were questions regarding the participation of non-signatories and in particular civil society at the CSP. Several governments, most notably from Europe, indicated that they favour expanding civil society participation to include organisations that are openly opposed to the Treaty. In an apparent acknowledgement that this may work against the smooth-running of Treaty institutions, this was accompanied by calls, again principally from European states, to limit the nature and extent of participation of all non-state organisations. Other delegations, however, challenged these proposals. Some argued that only non-state organisations that supported the ATT’s object, purpose and implementation should be welcome in formal Treaty processes. With no agreement reached, the issue has been passed to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, the next meeting host, to resolve.
A Control Arms delegation with participants from all regions attended the Berlin meeting and contributed ideas and perspectives. Interventions were delivered on all the major agenda areas, including participation, rules of procedure, and reporting.
A new resource by ATT Legal that surveys the financing mechanisms used in other treaties was included in the meeting papers. Prior to the meeting, Control Arms organized a public action that reinforced the coalition’s call to governments that they have a “#chance2change” the arms trade if they implement the ATT strongly and effectively.
States will meet again in Trinidad and Tobago on 23-24 February 2015 for the first formal Preparatory Meeting for the CSP to resume discussions, although much work needs to be done in the interim period. The ATT enters into force on 24 December 2014.
It was a strong week for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as three more states signed or ratified the instrument at UN headquarters in New York. Cameroon became the 124th state to sign when H.E. Mr. Michel Tommo Monthe, deposited the instrument on 3 December. Ms Karen Tan, Ambassador of Singapore, signed the ATT on her country’s behalf on 5 December shortly after H.E. Mr. Milan Milanović deposited Serbia’s instrument of ratification. Serbia is now the 55th country to ratify the ATT.
Control Arms welcomes new signatories Singapore and Cameroon. Singapore is a growing arms exporter and significant importer as well. They are the eighth country from the Asia region to sign.
Cameroon becomes the 29th African State to sign the ATT. Porous borders in Central Africa have facilitated illicit arms flows within the region, fuelling violence and crime. The ATT, which has also been signed by Cameroon’s neighbor Chad, will help to align the arms transfer policies and practices of the countries in the sub-region.
“This is a wonderful stride from Cameroon,” said Eugine Nyuydine Ngalim, Director of Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace, a Control Arms member. “But they have one more step to take – ratification of the ATT. Ratifying the Treaty will seriously contribute to reducing arms proliferation, especially urgent given the situation of the Boko Haram and the Séléka rebel incursions from the North and Eastern regions of Cameroon.”
With entry-into-force just a few weeks away, on 24 December, it’s anticipated that other states will sign the Treaty this month. After the 24th, states wishing to join will have to follow a process of accession. Control Arms looks forward to welcoming these new signatures and encourages those states that have begun the ratification process to conclude it swiftly.
Campaigners from around the world joined together in Berlin to call on governments to take action on ATT implementation, ahead of the next round of informal consultations on the Treatytaking place there this week.
The majority of campaigners held iconic green “Ampelmännchen” traffic signs to signify how too many irresponsible arms deals have been given the green light for too long. One campaigner stood alone to stop the others, holding a red sign symbolizing that it’s time to stop arms deals that cause untold death and destruction.
The action reinforces Control Arms’ call to governments that they have a “#chance2change” the arms trade if they implement the ATT strongly and effectively. On 27 and 28 November, upto 100 governments that have signed or ratified the Treaty will gather in Berlin to discuss the technical details of implementation.
Decisions must be made about the treaty’s future rules of procedure, financing mechanisms for the treaty, and the location, structure and remit of the ATT Secretariat. It is also a chance to plan for the treaty’s first Conference of States Parties (CSP), the annual fora where states will meet to assess progress on implementation. It is the second round of preparatory meetings for the CSP following a meeting in Mexico City held in September.
Control Arms campaigners will participate at this meeting and deliver several interventions on key areas of the agenda. The conference comes at a crucial time as the Treaty will become international law in less than a month on 24 December. Governments have a real chance to change the arms trade and prevent the flood of weapons that causes so much suffering.
On 25 November 2014, Ambassador Norachit Sinhaseni, Thailand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations signed the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of his country. Thailand participated throughout negotiations and their signature on the landmark treaty represents one of six from the Asia region. Japan is the only country from the region so far to ratify the ATT.
Thailand said that they “place strong importance on the role of international standards and practices to effectively prevent [the] illicit trade in arms, and irresponsible arms use” and that the ATT should be the primary tool use to accomplish this.
The Arms Trade Treaty is set to enter into force and become international law on 24 December 2014. To date, 123 governments of signed.
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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.