The ATT is the first treaty to ever include a specific provision on gender based violence, and as such is a very important precedent for other instruments. It requires States to take the risk of arms being used to commit acts of gender-based violence of violence against women and children into account when authorizing or denying a transfer.

The challenge that governments now face is how to operationalize these criteria, and this was the focus of a side-event co-sponsored by Iceland, the United Kingdom, Austria, Oxfam and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

The event’s panel was chaired by Ambassador Greta Gunnarsdottir, Iceland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations as well as Ambassador Matthew Rowland (United Kingdom), Ambassador Gerhard Doujak (Austria), Ms. Ray Acheson (Reaching Critical Will), and Ms. Claire Mortimer (Oxfam).

Panelists focused on practical measures that states now need to implement to ensure that the GBV criteria has an impact. Austria outlined ways in which exporting states should include the criteria in decision making. Claire Mortimer focused on the legal meaning of the criteria, and what the implications are for states therefore, and Ray Acheson spoke about practical policy suggestions for both states and the UN. Each also made it clear that States have a huge role to play in ensuring that the GBV criterion lives up to its potential. Complementary instruments, strong interpretation, and appropriate application of article 7 of the Treaty will be critical.

The sentiments put forth during the well-attended side event were largely reflective of the strong attention being paid to the ATT’s gender-based violence language in statements made in the General Assembly First Committee.including Ambassador Uffe A Balslev of Denmark who said: “it is widely recognized that sexual and gender-based violence carries responsibility for an unacceptably high share of human suffering in this world, not least of the suffering caused by illicit and unregulated arms trade. It is our hope that we have put those years behind us where the gender perspective was largely absent from disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation processes. Men and women are affected differently by weapons and armed conflict and their contribution to disarmament efforts will be different and complementary.”

To read more about each of the side events hosted by Control Arms at the United Nations during General Assembly First Committee, click here.

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