On 9 April, Paraguay officially ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, becoming the 66th country to do so. Their ratification guarantees them a spot at the First Conference of States parties, to be held in late August. Their commitment to arms control measures was further shown just weeks earlier when they also ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Paraguay has been a longtime supporter of the ATT and signed the landmark agreement during the first month the Treaty was opened for signature.
With consultations, preparatory meetings, and workshops continuing throughout the world on the ATT, momentum for the lifesaving instrument has never been higher. Since the last official meeting on the ATT was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, four countries have deposited their instruments of ratification: Ivory Coast, Belize, Chad, and Paraguay.
Control Arms welcomes the steps that each of these governments are taking in an effort to save lives and encourages all States who have not done so to follow suit and ratify or accede to the ATT.
On 2 April, Kenya experienced its worst terrorist attack in nearly 20 years. The needless killing carried out by members of Al Shabaab clearly demonstrates the need for continued efforts to control arms flows and reduce armed violence.
“The Garissa attacks show once again that armed violence isn’t simply a word we use in speeches at the UN to spur governments into action. 147 people died in a matter of hours on Thursday. 147 stories that will not unfold. Their memories will be kept close as we continue to work to prevent armed violence around the world,” said Ms Amran Abdundi, Executive Director, Frontier Indigenous Network based in northern part of Kenya. She continued, “a person dies from armed violence every minute, but when you see those minutes tick by as quick as they did on the campus of Garissa University, it becomes even more real. Those who lost lives remain in our thoughts.”
It is widely thought that Al Shabab aquires weapons through diversion A confidential report of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group leaked to Reuters last year indicated “systematic abuses” that have allowed for the diversion. The report states that there were “a number of issues and concerns over current management of weapons and ammunition stockpiles by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), which point to high-level and systematic abuses in weapons and ammunition management and distribution.”
Scenarios like this are precisely why provisions on diversion were incorporated into the Arms Trade Treaty. The provision requires States Parties to take steps to prevent diversion. Exporters must assess the risk of diversion as well as consider measures to mitigate against it, while importer and transit states are obligated to, share pertinent information and give assurances about who will receive weapons and how they will be used.
However, at this point, Djibouti remains the only country in the East Africa region to have signed the ATT. None have ratified or acceded despite Kenya having played a leadership role during the negotiation process at the United Nations.
Control Arms is partnering with PAX and CPS-AVIP to host a meeting in Nairobi this week to promote universalization in the sub-region. The meeting will focus on informing key government stakeholders of the value of the ATT and indicate practical steps to tackle the irresponsible arms trade at its core. In the wake of the tragedy at Garissa University, Kenya will be an obvious focus of the meeting.
Control Arms hopes the upcoming meeting will be a rallying call for the governments of the Horn of Africa and will renew their sense of purpose in combating the irresponsible arms trade.
“Kenya was a leader throughout the ATT process. Without them, the Treaty might have looked very different. Now that we have it, they’ve been silent for over two years. Atrocities like Garissa, Mandera and Westgate show that the time to delay is long over,” said Abjata Khalif, Network Chair Pajan Kenya and a journalist who covered the Garissa terrorist attack.
Belize became the 64th country to join the Arms Trade Treaty when they deposited their instrument of ratification on 19 March 2015 at UN Headquarters. Belize joins nine other members of the Caribbean Community in ratifying the ATT and will officially become a State Party to the lifesaving treaty 90 days after their date of deposit.
While Belize is neither a significant arms importer nor exporter, the small country knows the impacts arms and ammunition can have when they fall into the wrong hands. During ATT negotiations a government representative called the diversion of arms to the illegal black market “a devastating impact to which my country bears witness on a daily basis.”
Belize is now set to join the First Conference of States Parties from the 24th to 27th August.
Photo: INSIDER IMAGES/Keith Bedford
Control Arms members gathered in Trinidad and Tobago to demonstrate that there’s a better use for steel than weapons and ammunition.
Campaginers are in Port of Spain for the First Preparatory Meeting toward the First Conference of States (CSP) Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) taking place in Port of Spain from 23 – 24 February.
Coalition members held signs stating “There is a better use for steel” against the backdrop of a performance from the Sapophonic Steel Band, a steel orchestra. The performance also served to reinforce the coalition’s call for effective implementation of the ATT and that this is a ‘#chance2change’ the arms trade.
The Port of Spain conference is the first formal Preparatory Conference to plan for the first CSP which is scheduled to take place in September 2015. It follows preliminary meetings that took place in Mexico City and Berlin in 2014. Over 80 governments are attending the Port of Spain meeting to discuss the Treaty’s future rules of procedure, its financing mechanisms, the location, structure and mandate of the ATT Secretariat as well as the level of participation given civil society and States not Party to the Treaty.
45 colleagues from across the Control Arms Coalition are participating at the meeting, where top on the agenda are decisions relating to the level of participation allowed to civil society, the Treaty’s future rules of procedure, financing mechanisms, and the location, structure and remit of the official ATT Secretariat. Control Arms will be pushing for effective participation of civil society at the CSP, as well as effective rules for decision-making and financing.
Control Arms will also launch the first report from the new ATT Monitor project at the meeting, which focuses on reporting patterns among signatories and States Parties to the ATT.
Folade Mutota from the Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence (CDRAV) said, “We in the Caribbean know only too well the havoc that is wreaked by an arms trade that is out of control. Trinidad and Tobago is showing leadership in hosting this conference, which represents an important milestone in the implementation of the ATT. We call on all governments to ensure this conference is a success, and helps to further successful implementation of the Treaty.”
In a previous post, we congratulated the German government on halting arms exports to Saudi Arabia. However, it turns out that the Bild am Sonntag report that was at the root of this story was excessively optimistic. Further investigations have revealed that rather than halting all arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, there has been no obvious change to German policy. Indeed, the country has just recently licensed new arms exports that include border control software and shooting simulators.
However, for the moment we have no clear evidence that the German government has changed a policy that continues to equip an oppressive regime frequently criticized for their human rights record.Control Arms members continue to call on all governments who have not already done so to ratify or accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Control Arms also specifically calls on governments including Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada to finally take note of Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record and halt all arms exports.
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State positions and practices concerning reporting and the Arms Trade Treaty