A side event organized byControl Arms, Small Arms Survey, UNIDIR and WILPF
the Eighth Conference of States Parties to the ATT

This event provided the opportunity for a wide range of actors from the United Nations to civil society to discuss how they were taking forward the Arms Trade Treaty’s (ATT) obligations and commitments on gender. Ms. Hana Salama, Researcher – UNIDIR, who moderated the discussions, briefly presented the recent publication ‘Gender & the ATT Factsheet’, prepared by UNIDIR and Control Arms, which examines gender across all areas of the ATT. Ms. Salama recalled that under the ATT, gender is not only about gender-based violence (GBV), but is also key to other Treaty provisions, including on the prevention of diversion.

Ms. Vera Kissling, Deputy Head of Export Control and Private Security Services, Division of Security Policy (Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland) explained that promotion of gender equality is at the core of Switzerland’s disarmament and non-proliferation policy. This goal will be built on during Switzerland’s membership of the UN Security Council from 2023 to 2024. Ms. Kissling called for enhanced dialogue between government officials, licensing officers in particular, and the civil society on how to implement the Article 7.4 provisions related to GBV.

Ms. Cindy Ebbs, Co-Director at Control Arms, gave an overview of the Control Arms ‘ATT Gender Action Plan’ Project. Acknowledging that the ATT is a critical contribution to global efforts to address GBV, Ms. Ebbs stressed that the ATT represents a significant achievement toward broader UN efforts to mainstream gender issues in global policy and practice. In particular, Ms. Ebbs pointed out that the decisions taken at the Fifth Conference of States Parties (CSP5) to the ATT represented a key step forward and raised the profile of gender and GBV within the context of the ATT. These revolved around three areas:

  • Gender-balanced representation in ATT-related decision-making processes;
  • Gendered impact of armed violence in the context of the ATT; and
  • Implementation of GBV-related risk assessment.

Following up on CSP5, Control Arms has now completed the first phase of its ‘ATT Gender Action Plan’ project. The project explores how gender can be mainstreamed into ATT practice in a more holistic way and through an actionable, effective, and results-based plan, and sets the stage for the CSP5 commitments to take root in the fabric of the CSP for years to come, and for further discussions exploring interlinkages between the ATT and GBV

Ms. Ebbs presented the key project components, which are:


  • a collective methodology to monitor progress towards the implementation of CSP5 decisions and recommendations. The methodology provides a comprehensive view of how gender and GBV should be factored into the ATT and related processes.
  • an ATT stakeholder survey; and case studies containing examples of positive action. The survey is intended for State Parties and responses will provide valuable information on the implementation of CSP5 gender and GBV related commitments that may not be publicly available. In this regard, the survey is expected to fill existing gaps in knowledge, information sharing, and reporting. The methodology is useful not only for State Parties, but also for signatories to become ATT ‘gender champions’ (and this may faciliate implementation of other Treaty obligations once they become State Parties).
  • short case studies on States Parties that demonstrate exceptional work in the gender and GBV areas. In the context of the ATT, highlighting these positive examples can serve as guidance, especially for States that are at different stages with regard to the implementation of gender and GBV commitments and more broadly to their gender evolution.

By developing a solid tool to measure and record progress made on gender and GBV on an annual basis, Control Arms seeks to sustain momentum, to encourage further discussions on the topics of gender and GBV, and to ensure that these issues remain at the forefront of ATT work.

Ms. Mimidou Achakpa, Women’s Right to Education Programme, presented initiatives undertaken to prevent and address the gendered impact of armed violence in Nigeria. After explaining the nexus between insurgency, violence, and gender issues, which is key to understanding and mitigating the effects of conflicts, Ms. Achakpa presented Nigeria’s work to operationalize UNSCR 1325 and the relevant National Action Plan, which is currently being reviewed. Initiatives include the establishment of a Gender Advisor in the Nigeria Police Force, the introduction of gender sensitive programming, and a Guide on Nigerian legislature’s role in advancing the WPS Resolutions, which provides direction in passing gender bills into law.

Ms. Folade Mutota, Executive Director and one of the three founders of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), spoke about initiatives undertaken in the area of violence reduction at the community level, and the social and gender impact of legislation to control the use of illicit firearms.

Ms Mutota noted that WINAD’s research, A Pilot Study on the Role of Women in Communities: The Case of East Port of Spain is the first and only inquiry into the role of women in reducing, facilitating or preventing armed violence in Trinidad and Tobago and set out to prioritize women’s leadership roles and women’s well-being in violent spaces and understand how women experience violence. WINAD was particularly interested in the transactional nature of the women’s relationships with stakeholders, police and gangs, and found a fairly evolved understanding of the impact of extrinsic motivation and contingent reward.

Ms Mutota underlined that understanding and positioning women’s leadership role in communities requires engagement with the intersecting forms of inequalities and discrimination that are common to women’s lived experience and the masculinized norms related to security which characterize leadership in underserved communities, and situations of conflict.

Ms. Natasa Loizou, Executive Director of the National Controlled Materials Agency of Argentina, explained the role and functions of the newly established Agency. Ms. Loizou spoke about how progress had been made in the area of gender and GBV, which included the adoption of national regulations addressing national programming related to sexual education; the introduction of a legal concept of femicide; creation of a national Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity; and introduction of an inter-ministerial program with the objective of adopting a comprehensive approach to extreme violence motivated by reasons concerning gender.

Ms. Loizou also presented figures from the national registry of femicides, showing that around 25 per cent of femicides are committed with firearms. Ms. Loizou stressed the importance of gathering such gender disaggregated data at the national level.

Mr. Callum Watson, Gender Coordinator at the Small Arms Survey, introduced the Small Arms Survey’s Global Violent Deaths (GVD) database, presenting some figures and trends in violence perpetrated with firearms against women. Mr. Watson also referred to the Small Arms Survey’s Briefing Paper titled, At Whose Risk? Understanding States Parties’ Implementation of Arms Trade Treaty Gender-based Violence Provisions.

One of the main findings of the paper is that no State Party has publicly indicated nor reported denial of transfers based on GBV criteria. Mr. Watson underlined that it is crucial to encourage states to provide details on cases of denial. Mr. Watson also highlighted that it is paramount to empower civil society organizations to contribute to research agendas on gender and GBV topics; to provide capacity building for data collection, analysis, and reporting; and to foster joint processes between the WPS agenda and the ATT.

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