Preparations for the Arms Trade Treaty’s First Conference of States Parties (CSP) took another step forward with an international meeting in Vienna, Austria this week (20-21 April). The informal meeting was attended by over 300 representatives of government, international organizations, and civil society from 90 countries. NGOs gave presentations as part of two plenary panels which focused on best practice in Treaty implementation, and which afforded an opportunity to emphasize the importance of effective ATT implementation, as well as the continued drive for universalization.
Rules of procedure, reporting, financing, and the permanent ATT Secretariat were also on the agenda of the two day meeting.
Control Arms Coalition representatives included 40 campaigners, policy experts, and advocates from all regions. Abjata Khalif, a journalist and grassroots activist from Kenya, who was one of the first on the scene after the massacre of students at Garissa University in northern Kenya in early April, gave the opening intervention on behalf of Control Arms. He urged diplomats from around the world to agree Rules of Procedure for Treaty implementation which would help to save lives.
“In Kenya, we say ‘147 is not just a number.’ Because each one murdered in Garissa was a young man or a young woman with hopes, dreams and aspirations. Just like your sons and daughters. But those hopes are over, and those bright young lives destroyed.
Where do these guns from, that kill our brothers and sisters? Our sons and daughters? Our mothers and fathers? They are not made in Africa. They come from overseas, and they are too easily getting into the wrong hands. Too easily purchased, and too easily diverted.
Effective implementation, which actually stop arms transfers that fuel poverty, human rights abuses and suffering. We need the highest possible international norm to be established, not the lowest common denominator.”
While some progress was made at the meeting, some governments insist on relying heavily on consensus-based decision making, and want decisions to be deferred where this is not achieved. This effort, risks placing the ATT on the long list of global bodies where delay, deferment, and inaction are all commonplace. Additional recommendations like requiring civil society to pay to attend Conferences of States Parties meetings and watered down reporting measures were also put forward, although by a small number of countries.
Representatives from Control Arms also met with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, and urged him to ensure Austria remains a progressive leader in the ATT process, and to use his leadership to push other European States in particular to support effective Treaty implementation. Control Arms wants to see Rules of Procedure which enable decisions to be taken swiftly and effectively, with no potential for any one country or small group of countries to veto; financial rules which are fair and do not disadvantage smaller economies, open and transparent meetings and comprehensive public reporting.
Click here to read Control Arms’ full analysis of the Vienna Informal PrepComm.