Control Arms calls for action as second Conference of States Parties opens in Geneva
Geoffrey Duke, Director of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, gave a strong statement as part of the opening High Level panel for the start of the second Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Alongside the President of Switzerland, and Ministers from Nigeria, Costa Rica, Finland and Peru. Geoffrey, representing Control Arms, called on delegates to seize the opportunity this week to make decisions that will halt the flow of weapons to South Sudan and many other countries facing armed violence and conflict.
Arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen are a major concern for civil society. These transfers are causing devastating human suffering, and are in violation of their obligations under the Treaty. Control Arms calls on all States to immediately stop arms transfers, and for the conference to discuss the need to ensure all States Parties fully adhere to the Treaty.
Control Arms’ message to “#BeTransparent” was also heard loud and clear as the conference opened. Campaigners, including local activists from Amnesty International displayed banners with the message that it’s time to bring the arms trade out of the shadows. This was reinforced by “Top Secret” folders, distributed to delegates as they entered the conference room containing ten reasons why transparency in the arms trade is crucial.
The importance of transparency is a major message being put forward by Control Arms this week, as. states are poised to take decisions as to whether annual Treaty reports detailing arms exports and imports will be public or not. Doing so is the best way to tackle corruption, prevent diversion and stop the easy access of weapons to terrorist groups.
Over 100 governments are participating in the week-long conference, which is being presided over by Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe of Nigeria. In his statement, Mr. Duke recalled how he was recently held at gun point in Juba. Despite a peace deal that was agreed almost exactly one year ago – during the first CSP – violent atrocities continue and weapons are flowing in. Efforts at an arms embargo have been blocked at the UN Security Council; the ATT represents a way to halt the transfer of arms to South Sudan. “As I waited for the trigger to be pulled, I thought: was has happened to my country?” he asked. “We cannot wait for the slow churn of bureaucracy. We need positive action this week.”
Control Arms launched its second annual ATT Monitor report during a side event that also underscored the importance of transparency. To effectively and accurately assess Treaty implementation, there needs to be access to reliable data such as that provided by though reporting. Read more about the launch and the reports findings here.
The General Debate, which began in the afternoon session, saw over 20 delegations deliver statements, with more to come on the second day. Many statements highlighted the need for transparency, the important role of civil society in ATT implementation and issues around the Voluntary Trust Fund.
There was a noticeably greater geographic diversity of delegations taking the floor than in previous meetings – something that Control Arms hopes will continue throughout the week. A full summary of Day One of the CSP can be found here.