The ATT Working Group Meetings and First Informal Preparatory Meeting for the Seventh Conference of States Parties (CSP7) took place virtually, from 26 – 30 April 2021, providing the first opportunity for interactive engagement on issues related to the Arms Trade Treaty since February 2020. The meetings opened with a presentation of the CSP7 President’s thematic paper on “strengthening efforts to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and ensure efficient stockpile management,” which received overwhelming support from ATT stakeholders. The Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation (WGETI) continued its substantive deliberations through its sub-working groups on Articles 6 and 7 (prohibitions + export & export assessment), Article 9 (Transit & Transshipment), and Article 11 (Diversion).
The Sub-Working Group on Articles 6 and 7 discussed States Parties’ written submissions to the Sub-Working Group on the national interpretation and application of key treaty terms in Articles 6 and 7, including “facilitate”, “overriding risk” and “knowledge at the time of authorization.” Speaking on behalf of the Control Arms Coalition, Mr. Ivan Marques expressed concern with the limited sample of states that provided submissions to the Sub-Working Group — only 20 of 110 (18%) States Parties, almost half of which are members of the European Union. If these results are to be relied upon by the Sub-Working Group in drafting its Voluntary Guide, Control Arms urged the Sub-Working Group to extend the timeframe of the current exercise until more States Parties, and a more representative range of States Parties, are able to contribute.
As this is only the second time the Sub-Working Group on Article 9 has met, the discussions last week provided an initial mapping of select terms that are key to the implementation of Article 9. These include national approaches to the terms ‘transit’ and ‘transhipment’ and understanding of the phrases ‘under its jurisdiction’ and ‘through its territory in accordance with international law.’ Control Arms looks forward to continuing these conversations in this Sub-Working Group toward a better understanding of how states are implementing transit controls.
In discussions regarding diversion, the facilitator of the Sub-Working Group on Article 11 presented a draft paper on “Key Elements of a Process For Assessing the Risk Of Diversion.” While some States Parties welcomed several key elements outlined in the paper, including end-user certificates and the involvement of industry and civil society in efforts to prevent diversion, others noted the need for further clarity on the scope of this document.
The Working Group on Treaty Universalisation (WGTU) was facilitated by Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone in his capacity as CSP7 President, alongside CSP6 President, Ambassador Federico Villegas of Argentina. The meeting opened with an overview of the ATT universalization activities carried out by the two co-Chairs over the past year. Following an update from the Head of the ATT Secretariat, Mr. Dumisani Dladla on the status of ratification and accessions, a number of States and civil society took the floor to share planned initiatives, efforts and financial support of Treaty universality.
The continuing downward trend in ATT initial and annual reporting rates was central to the discussion of the Working Group on Transparency and Reporting (WGTR). The increasing number of confidential reports submitted drew even more concern among States Parties and civil society, as transparency is and remains one of the core purposes of the ATT. Another central topic of discussion in the WGTR last week were the proposed amendments to the ATT reporting templates. Carina Solmirano, on behalf of the ATT Monitor, expressed support for the efforts to remove ambiguous language and improve the user-friendliness of the templates, but noted that more work needs to be done in areas including the disaggregation of data (particularly on small arms and light weapons), amended statements regarding the public availability of reports, the elimination of ‘voluntary’ submission of information in both reporting templates, and methods to improve the accuracy of analysis on gender balance with regard to national points of contact. The WGTR also included a brief discussion on the Diversion Information Exchange Forum (DIEF) including its intended purpose, scope and Terms of Reference.. While the DIEF was intended to meet in-person for the first time at CSP7, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Forum will not meet until CSP8.
The first CSP 7 Informal Preparatory Meeting, held on 30 April, began with an overview of the status of implementation of decisions taken during CSP6. The Preparatory Meeting continued with an overview on the state of the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) and summary report by each of 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 CSP7 draft agenda. Shirine Jurdi, on behalf of Control Arms, encouraged States Parties who will put forward their candidacy for ATT CSP Presidency, to consider the appointment of a female President given that all previous Presidents have been men.
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