Process not Substance in Second CSP
August 29, 2016

The second Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) concluded with a disappointing lack of substantial discussion. In particular, States Parties avoided discussion of arms transfers that are in violation of the ATT – particularly with regard to transfers to Saudi Arabia in the context of the Yemen crisis.

“We are appalled that this high-level conference on arms control has failed to address the war crimes committed against civilians in Yemen using arms supplied by Arms Trade Treaty States Parties and Signatories,” said Anna Macdonald, Control Arms Director. “The ATT was created to stop these kinds of arms sales. It has the potential to save lives – but only if States adhere to it.”

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Progress was made in some procedural areas that are important for the Treaty to be implemented. In particular the establishment of the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) is an achievement that will enable States Parties to access resources that can help them with Treaty implementation. Dumisani Dladla was confirmed as Permanent Head of the ATT Secretariat which will now make it possible to recruit for other positions and for the Secretariat to function fully. Three working groups were established created to progress work throughout the year on Universalization, Transparency and Reporting, and Implementation.   Throughout the week, States, including those that are not yet party to the ATT, also shared positive updates about steps being take at the national level to implement the Treaty.

Substance was mainly provided through the 12 side events that were organised by civil society and governments throughout the week. During the first day at the CSP2016, Control Arms in partnership with Australia, Netherlands and Ireland launched the second Annual Report of the ATT Monitor while RAND Europe discussed the barriers and obstacles to a globalized ATT in a panel event. Three insightful side events were hosted during the second day by Control Arms, Pax, and Oxfam on how arms transfers are furthering human suffering in Yemen, by Saferworld, Liberia and Norway on Liberia’s national compliance with the ATT and by Small Arms Survey, UNIDIR, GCSP and the ATT Network who introduced “The Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide to Implementation”. Following, “The Arms Trade Treaty: A Commentary” publication, very useful analysis of ATT’s provisions was introduced by Switzerland while WILPF hosted a discussion of the implementation of Article 7 (Export and Export Assessment), focusing particularly on tools and guidelines to help States to implement the Treaty’s provisions on gender-based violence. ATT-BAP and Control Arms co-hosted an analyses of the first ATT initial reports and highlighted lessons learned and next steps for States Parties. A roundtable discussion co-hosted by UNIDIR and Amnesty International focused on addressing diversion of arms through enhanced cooperation, and the development of stronger end use/r control systems. The African Union, Small Arms Survey and Control Arms, discussed challenges and opportunities of the ATT in Africa. SIPRI, Sweden, and UNLIREC, highlighted steps taken in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve arms transfers and SALW controls in the region.

The third CSP will take place in Geneva from 11-15 September 2017. under the Presidency of Ambassador Korhonen of Finland. Finland have promised a “focus on substance” and Control Arms calls on all States to now move on from process issues, and to concentrate on ensuring their focus is on reducing human suffering.

Read our final summary of the Conference here.