Two sets of meetings took place in Geneva, Switzerland in early February, aimed at bringing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) process forward and to begin preparations for the third Conference of States Parties (CSP 2017). The first Working Group Meetings, held on 05 – 09 February 2017, provided a fora for States Parties, signatories and observers to share experiences, discuss challenges and practical steps towards the effective implementation, reporting and universalization of the Treaty. During these intercessional meetings, states identified priority areas to be addressed at the national level as well as areas of work for the three informal Working Groups.
The Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation focused almost entirely on the technical aspects of implementation, discussing national control lists, the importance of cooperation and information sharing, measures and structures aimed to regulate transit and transshipment, brokering and prevent diversion. Disappointingly, the meeting failed to discuss compliance and potential Treaty violations. Control Arms reminded states that upholding the Treaty’s provisions can reduce human suffering and enable sustainable development.
The Working Group on Transparency and Reporting agreed to focus on supporting reporting efforts while the Informal Working Group on Treaty Universalization stressed the importance of tailored universalization strategies that highlight the broad application of the Treaty, including its complementarity with the 2013 the Sustainable Development Goals.
The first Informal Preparatory Meeting (PrepCom) for CSP 2017, held on 16 February, offered a report-back by the Co-Chairs of the three Working Groups and a cursory discussion of the agenda for CSP 2017. Two side events were also held on the margins of the first PrepCom. Coordinating and Implementing ATT-Related Assistance Activities: Lessons Learned and Ways Forward, sponsored by Control Arms, SIPRI, Sweden and Saferworld highlighted lessons learned from projects such as the ATT Academy, BAFA ATT implementation projects, Saferworld Expert Group on ATT Implementation, Mapping ATT-relevant Cooperation and Assistance Activities Database or the Cameroonian ATT implementation project. Speakers stressed the importance of building on past projects in order to avoid duplication, maximize resources and ensure long-term stability. Respect for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Arms Transfer Decisions under the ATT, sponsored by ICRC and Ireland stressed the importance of a fact-based assessment which should consider the risk that the goods could be used to both “commit’ as well as ‘facilitate’ serious violations of IHL and IHRL.
The Control Arms Coalition was represented at the Working Group Meetings and the first PrepCom by a cross-regional delegation with representatives from Africa, Asia, CARICOM, Americas and Europe.