The 73rd United Nations General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security (UNGA First Committee) concluded last week, ending a month-long negotiation on all things disarmament, including autonomous drones, anti-personnel landmines, cyber warfare and the international arms trade. The Control Arms Coalition has been in full force throughout this period, organizing a total of 11 side events and roundtables related to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as well as over 170 bilateral meetings with delegates in an effort to build momentum around the ATT.
Similar to last year, this year’s First Committee was largely consumed by issues surrounding nuclear weapons, particularly the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons, as well as geopolitical tensions over a pending withdrawal by the United States from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and over claims of the use of chemical weapons by Syria.
Nevertheless, two new accessions to the ATT brought the number of States Parties to 99, a record 100 co-sponsors and 151 votes in favor of this year’s ATT resolution, along with 160 references to the ATT throughout the meeting, represent a positive boost in momentum for the Treaty. The ATT Resolution, introduced by Latvia as the president of the fifth Conference of States Parties to the ATT (CSP 2019), was adopted with a record 100 co-sponsors, 151 votes for, none against and 30 abstentions. Furthermore, the “Women, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation”, tabled biennially by Trinidad and Tobago, was adopted without a vote and with 95 co-sponsors after a vote on a paragraph which included a reference to the ATT.
Positively, Lebanon announced its intent on depositing its instrument of ratification to the ATT in the near future. This is an incredible achievement led by Permanent Peace Movement, particularly Fadi Abi Allam and Christina Foerch.
Control Arms delivered a strong statement calling on states to effectively implement and comply with the Treaty’s provisions. It stressed that “armed violence and armed conflict have a gendered impact” and urged States to “take advantage of the opportunity the ATT presents to contribute to global efforts to reduce arms-related gender-based violence.” Latvia, as the President of the CSP 2019, formally announced that the theme for this year’s CSP will be to advance discussions on gender and arms related gender-based violence (GBV).
A further 11 well attended side events and roundtables were held to discuss various aspects of the ATT including gender and GBV, reporting, diversion, regional and national implementation, and the previous & upcoming CSPs.
The first of four side events hosted by Control Arms this month was on “Preventing the Diversion of Arms and Ammunition”, held on 17 October, with the support of the Permanent Missions of France and Mexico and participation from Conflict Armament Research (CAR) and Project Ploughshares. The event identified the risk that diversion poses to global peace and security and presented ways in which the ATT provides a framework to ensure regulation of the illicit trade of arms.
An interactive discussion on the ATT’s role in addressing GBV followed the side event on “How to Use the Arms Trade Treaty to Address Gender-Based Violence”, held on 19 October. Co-hosted with the Permanent Missions of Ireland and Sweden, this event presented Control Arms’ practical guide on GBV criteria, which builds upon Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 and offers a foundation on which states can build their national ATT risk assessment criteria for gender-based violence. Folade Mutota of the Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence stressed that “we must continue to humanise the challenge that we seek to correct, lest we make invisible those we seek to protect.”
A “Report back from ATT CSP 2018 and Prospects for CSP 2019” was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Japan and Latvia, the ATT Secretariat and Control Arms during a side event held on 23 October. Ambassador Takamizawa of Japan, President of CSP 2018, highlighted key outcomes from the meeting including its focus on diversion, while Ambassador Jānis Kārkliņš defined the priorities of the Latvian presidency of CSP 2019 as: 1) implementation and compliance with the Treaty; 2) reduction of armed gender-based violence; 3) engagement with civil society and industry; 4) addressing financial issues; and 5) improving reporting on implementation of the ATT.
The last side event of the month presented Control Arms’ ATT Monitor Annual Report 2018, alongside the Permanent Missions of Australia and the Netherlands on the 15 October. During this event, Katherine Young of the Control Arms ATT Monitor project and Rachel Stohl of the Henry L. Stimson Center presented two reports that contribute to effective monitoring of ATT transparency and reporting obligations, with contributions from Mr. Peter Horne of Australia and Frank Groome of Ireland.