Governments, members of civil society, and UN officials have gathered in Geneva for the final preparatory meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty. The event is the final in a series of informal and formal meetings, meant to agree on the details of how the Arms Trade Treaty is implemented and how the Treaty’s First Conference of States Parties (CSP) will operate. These discussions will focus on four specific elements of the ATT: rules of procedure for the CSP, financing mechanisms, reporting obligations, and the ATT’s Secretariat and will run from 6 July through 8 July.

Previous meetings in Vienna, Port of Spain, Germany, and Mexico City have led the process to a point where governments can take appropriate decisions that enable the ATT to be implemented in a way that achieves its original purpose: to protect human rights and save lives. Control Arms will have an active presence in Geneva and will be calling on governments to take common sense decisions that will put the ATT in a position to deliver results for the millions on the ground that depend on a change in the “business as usual approach” to the irresponsible arms trade.

Perhaps the most important decision that must be taken regards the rules of procedure for the First CSP. For some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, strong rules can literally be the difference between life and death. Certain proposals have been issued that could see decisions delayed for up to a year. Other proposals feature a step backward toward consensus-based decision making. Governments took a principled stand against positions like these to agree on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2013. In order for the instrument to succeed, they must continue to show leadership by giving the ATT the tools it needs to be effective.

For live updates from Geneva, follow @controlarms on Twitter.

Five decisions governments can take to help ensure an effective ATT:

  1. Decision Making:
    Ensure there is an effective majority-based decision making process established for all procedural, substantive, and financial issues, and with no deferral mechanisms.
  2. Reporting:
    Ensure comprehensive, regular, and transparent reporting that enables the highest possible standard, not the lowest common denominator.
  3. Participation:
    Guarantee that NGOs working to ensure effective ATT implementation are able to participate fully as observers in the CSPs.
  4. ATT Secretariat
    Establish an independent and proactive ATT Secretariat, adequately resourced to enable support for ATT implementation, with staff appointments based on merit.
  5. Strong standard
    Apply the provisions of the ATT consistently and robustly to prevent human suffering caused by irresponsible arms transfers.
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