From 4 – 7 February 2020, ATT States Parties engaged in productive discussions during the ATT Working Group Meetings and the First Informal Preparatory Meeting for the 2020 Conference of States Parties (CSP6). The meetings welcomed opening discussions under a new sub-working group on Article 9 (Transit & Transhipment), eased tensions on issues surrounding financial contributions, and saw some progress under the Working Groups on Treaty Implementation and Transparency and Reporting.

Frank Slijper, PAX for Peace

The Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation (WGETI) continued its deliberations through its existing sub-working groups on core Treaty articles 6 & 7 (prohibitions + export & export assessment) and 11 (Diversion), while introducing the new Transit & Transhipment sub-working group under the leadership of Mr. Rob Wesley from the government of South Africa. The Working Group on Articles 6 & 7 considered a “Draft Methodology Template for Unpacking Key Concepts”, which spurred an interesting discussion surrounding the interpretations States Parties give to key terms in Article 7 including  ‘facilitate’, ‘serious’, ‘overriding risk’ and ‘knowledge’. In discussions surrounding diversion, states held an open discussion on issues including risk assessment, diversion risk indicators, and legitimacy and credibility of involved parties.

Frank Slijper, on behalf of the Control Arms Coalition, emphasised that “The primary responsibility for identifying, addressing and mitigating diversion risk lies with states. And yet too often we see the lead being taken in identifying problematic practices by human rights or humanitarian organisations, journalists, other non-governmental actors… We will continue to do our bit, but imagine how much more effective we could be if governments themselves approached these issues with the same sense of priority and urgency as the non-governmental sector.” Find Control Arms’ full statement on Article 11 here.

Raluca Muresan, Control Arms

The Working Group on Treaty Universalisation (WGTU) was facilitated by CSP5 President Ambassador Janis Karklins alongside CSP6 President Ambassador Carlos Foradori, with the former thanking the work of civil society in last year’s universalisation achievements and the latter outlining Argentina’s universalisation plans for 2020. ATT Secretariat Head Mr. Dumisani Dladla updated the plenary on the status of ratification and accessions, while Raluca Muresan of Control Arms provided an overview of the role of civil society in supporting ATT universalisation, citing work done around the world in promoting public awareness and providing technical support and capacity building. Find her presentation here.

A report by the Secretariat highlighted the status of ATT initial and annual reports during the Working Group on Transparency and Reporting (WGTR), co-chaired by Mr. Tom Nijs of Belgium, and Mr. Alejandro Alba Fernández of Mexico. The low reporting rates drew concern from a large number of states, even more so with the news of reports being increasingly submitted as confidential, directly undermining a core goal of the ATT which is to promote transparency in the global arms trade.

The first CSP 6 Informal Preparatory Meeting, held on 07 February, began with an introduction of the CSP6 priority theme of ‘transparency and information exchange’, with the President highlighting that after 5 years, discussions have achieved a level of maturity that allow for more focused discussion and action on effective treaty implementation. The Preparatory Meeting continued with an overview on the state of the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) and report-back by the Co-Chairs of the three Working Groups, followed by discussions surrounding issues of financial obligations, status of the ATT Sponsorship Programme and considerations for the CSP6 draft agenda. 

Find all our statements, summary reports, photos and more here