On Monday, 3 February 2020, Control Arms, together with the Permanent Missions of Argentina and Canada, co-hosted a one-day practical workshop on “Harnessing Information Sharing & Transparency to Prevent & Respond to Diversion.” Building upon the theoretical framework set out during the 2018 Japanese Presidency of the Fourth Conference of States Parties (CSP4) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), 25 State representatives and 13 civil society and United Nations representatives engaged in practical and concrete discussions on the role of information exchange in tackling diversion before, during and after the arms transfer. These discussions will serve to support the current conversations in the Article 11 sub-working group of the ATT Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation (WGETI) and complement the thematic focus of the 2020 Sixth Conference of States Parties (CSP6) to the ATT announced by Argentine Ambassador Carlos Foradori: “transparency and information exchange to eradicate diversion.”
In her opening remarks, Canadian Ambassador Leslie E. Norton stressed that arms diversion has “serious consequences on international and national security, human rights (including gender-based violence), humanitarian assistance and sustainable development”, and encouraged all States Parties, both importers and exporters, to “use the ATT meetings to explore together effective measures to tackle this serious issue”. Control Arms Coalition board chairperson Ivan Marques echoed these concerns, citing troubling armed violence statistics in Latin America fuelled by arms diversion.
7 panelists from various professional backgrounds including criminal investigation, export control, and investigative journalism led the workshop with innovative & interactive discussions on the role of risk assessments, investigations and information sharing in detecting, prosecuting and preventing arms diversion.
The workshop was split into 3 thematic sessions, reflecting the main stages of an arms transfer and where diversion may be successfully or unsuccessfully detected and prevented: before the transfer, during the transfer, and after the transfer. Experts covered a wide range of topics including but not limited to: export assessment methods, risk mitigation measures, the role of information exchange in conducting a risk assessment, the role of transit & transhipment states, criminal investigation & enforcement, reassessment after changed circumstances, and the role of open-source intelligence.
Presenters used innovative and interactive methods to convey their knowledge and help participants better grasp the more technical aspects of existing information sharing mechanisms within the systems set in place to help detect and prevent diversion, as well as to highlight opportunities for innovation in this field. This included role-playing exercises and live surveys, in which participants assessed whether specific scenarios could constitute diversion under the ATT (figure 1) and suggested sources of relevant, credible data that could be used in a diversion risk assessment process (figure 2).
In his closing remarks, Argentine Ambassador Carlos Foradori, President of the Sixth Conference of States Parties, emphasised the importance of establishing dialogue and creating space for sharing information regarding measures taken at national and international levels to prevent diversion. The Ambassador also highlighted the crucial role of civil society and industry, and encouraged these discussions to take place in regional settings as well, not just within the CSP process.
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