Control Arms organised multiple side events and roundtable during First Committee this year. These events offered an opportunity to discuss challenges to the ATT process and present concrete solutions – ranging from the practical implementation of the gender-based violence provisions within the Treaty to highlighting linkages between the ATT and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The launch of Control Arms’ ATT Monitor Report 2017 provided an overview of the main findings and analysis of the third Annual Report, which this year has a special focus on transparency. All three co-hosts of this event, Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands, lauded the ATT Monitor for serving as a “trusted”, “fact-based” analysis of ATT reporting “vital to the proper implementation of the Treaty.” Control Arms also co-hosted a side event with Finland, and Japan to review Conference of States Parties 2017 and discussed prospects for CSP 2018. Control Arms’ Cindy Ebbs stressed civil society’s disappointment with the continued focus on procedural issues and lack of substantive discussions at CSP 2017. She also highlighted the role of the Control Arms Coalition in supporting the Treaty’s universalization and effective implementation through active participation at the CSP 2017 and stressed priority areas of work in advance of CSP 2018.
Roundtables on the development of practical guidelines for risk assessment of gender-based violence, and implementation training for specific Latin American states with a focus on prevention diversion and GBV, generated productive input.
In a strong statement delivered to the Committee, Control Arms called upon delegates to shift the focus of discussions around the ATT from procedural to substantive matters and address actual arms transfers. These views were shared also by a number of delegations, e.g. New Zealand who stated:
“the time has come to start shifting our focus from institutional arrangements to ensuring that the Treaty delivers on its humanitarian and security promise”.
Control Arms colleagues from Africa, Latin America and the Pacific joined the New York team, and engaged in multiple meetings with delegations from across their regions, urging support and action on effective Treaty implementation.
This year’s “Arms Trade Treaty” resolution, was focused mostly on procedural issues, and highlighted the linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals and welcomed key decisions taken at the third CSP. Specifically, it welcomed the establishment of three standing working groups on implementation, universalisation, and reporting and transparency as well as the operationalization of the ATT Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF). Introduced by Japan and co-sponsored by 91 member states, the ATT resolution was adopted with 144 votes in favor and 29 abstentions. The most significant and disappointing change in voting patterns this year was the United States, who abstained from the ATT resolution for the first time since the Treaty’s adoption. In an explanation of the vote, the US said it was “
conducting standard reviews of various international agreements, including the Arms Trade Treaty, and as such [is] not in a position to vote ‘yes.”
Although the US stated it will continue to support efforts to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion, the abstention validates concerns about the country’s continued engagement with the ATT under the current administration.