UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security


ATT References in the General and Thematic Debates

68 references to the ATT were made during the General Debate, and 92 during the Conventional Weapons Debate, as well as several mentions during Other Disarmament Measures and Regional Disarmament. Over 50 states stressed the importance of Treaty universalisation, with the majority agreeing with Czech Republic’s sentiment that “a broader universal adherence to the ATT will strengthen global security and will positively contribute to conventional weapons trade regulation.”

Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovičs of Latvia delivers statement during the conventional weapons debate.

Latvia, as President of CSP 2019, noted that universalisation of the Treaty is “key to a world without violence caused by illegal circulation of arms” and urged states that have not done so to join the Treaty and “promote it in those parts of the world that are under-represented, especially Asia and Greater Middle East.” Several states including Turkey, Angola, Thailand, Namibia, Canada, Lebanon, Singapore, and Malaysia provided updates on their domestic ratification processes, expressing their aim of becoming States Parties soon.

More than 45 states asserted the importance of Treaty implementation, as New Zealand aptly noted that “the success of a Treaty cannot be measured simply by the extent of its membership but rather in its progress towards the realisation of its object and purpose” and described these as “establishing the highest possible common standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms, and preventing and eradicating their illicit trade”, a measure that a majority of states viewed as vital in creating an effective mechanism capable of contributing to international peace and security. Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico both asserted that the ATT if implemented in good faith could reduce human suffering caused by illegal and irresponsible arms transfers, improve regional security and stability, as well as promote accountability and transparency among States Parties. Bulgaria noted that “the international norm on responsible trade in arms set by the ATT plays an important role in preventing atrocities, curbing terrorism and promoting international security.

Several states referenced concrete steps taken towards advancing implementation. Guinea referenced a two-day regional seminar on ATT implementation legislation in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region that included parliamentarians active in issues of defense and security. Mexico explained that “the national, regional, and international workshops organized by the United Nations for the effective implementation of the ATT are key elements to help all Member States to establish controls and safeguards against irresponsible transfers of weapons and to prevent their diversion into the hands of organized crime or terrorist groups.” Several states including Madagascar and Paraguay referenced the VTF as a useful mechanism to further ATT implementation, particularly those states in need of international assistance, while Australia, France and Germany noted that they have contributed to the Voluntary Trust Fund and encouraged others member states to do so as well.

Many states expressed concern over the low rates of reporting and over the growing number of outstanding assessed financial contributions. The Netherlands called on States Parties to submit accurate and timely reports as mandated by the Treaty, in order to build trust among states parties and foster transparency in the global arms trade.

Deputy Permanent Representative of Namibia, Ms. Linda Scott delivering the joint statement on gender. Photo credit: Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN

Latvia announced gender and arms related gender-based violence as the priority theme for their ATT presidency, and 14 further states mentioned the importance of the GBV provision in the ATT. Ireland referenced Control Arms’ practical guide on “How the use the ATT to Address Gender-Based Violence” explaining that it offers a “step-by-step approach designed to support the development of more robust export control procedures and ensure GBV forms a key part of risk assessments.” Namibia delivered a statement on Gender during the Disarmament Machinery debate on behalf of 56 states which welcomed the focus of the ATT CSP 2019 on gender and gender based violence and called on states to build on this momentum and enhance the work of the Committee by focusing on the nexus between disarmament and the the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as well as the SDGs.

Victor Amisi of Vision Gram International delivering the Control Arms statement in the civil society segment of the UNGA First Committee.

In its statement to the Committee, Victor Amisi on behalf Control Arms called on states to effectively implement and comply with the Treaty’s provisions, highlighting recent atrocities in Yemen and the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as examples of the consequences of poorly regulated arms transfers and treaty violations, particularly under Articles 6 and 7 of the ATT. He also stressed the stressing that “armed violence and armed conflict, has a gendered impact’ and urged governments to “take advantage of the opportunity the ATT presents to contribute to global efforts to reduce arms-related GBV linked to weapons in situations of armed violence and or armed conflict.”

Side Events and Roundtables

Control Arms organized and participated in a number of side events and roundtables which offered substantive discussions on various aspects of the ATT:

OCT 17: Preventing the Diversion of Arms and Ammunition

Hosted by Control Arms and the governments of France and Mexico, with participation from Conflict Armament Research (CAR) and Project Ploughshares, this side event identified the risk that diversion poses to global peace and security and presented ways in which the Treaty provides a framework to ensure regulation of the illicit trade of arms.

Shawn Harris of CAR made clear that diversion can happen at multiple times throughout this cycle, and presented CAR’s typology of diversion, drawn from its field-based documentation and information that supplying states have provided in response to CAR’s trace requests. Because diversion can occur even when arms or ammunition do not changes hands, Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares warned states of the risk that arms or ammunition sold to an authorized end-user can then be put the to an unauthorized end-use. Amb. Flores of Mexico highlighted the importance of effectively implementing the Treaty in order to prevent diversion. She also recommended the creation of a catalogue of lessons learned by ATT States Parties to show others why certain actions to address diversion work and some do not. Both Mexico and France encouraged the participation of civil society. Amb. Hwang of France, in particular, stressed the importance of consulting specialized experts from civil society and the private sector.

OCT 19: How the ATT Can Address Gender-Based Violence – this highly attended side event presented Contol Arms practical guide which helps states to assess the risk of gender-based violence when conducting a weapons exports assessment. Ambassador Brian Flynn of Ireland underlined that the inclusion of GBV in Article 7.4 of the (ATT)was groundbreaking. The challenge now for states is to consider how best to implement Article 7.4. Daniel Nord of Sweden stressed the need for further deliberations in the ATT sub-Working Group on the Implementation of Articles 6 and 7. Verity Coyle of Control Arms presented the practical guide, which offers a foundation on which states can build their national ATT risk assessment criteria for GBV.

Veronique Christory of the ICRC warned that strict GBV criteria outlined in ATT will not be effective “unless they are applied in a rigorous and consistent manner”. Allison Pytlak of Reaching Critical Will called for more dialogue between civil society, experts and governments to ensure that the work is mutually beneficial. In future, she dais, we need more sharing of expertise between the ATT, SDG 5 and Women Peace and Security communities

Folade Mutota of the Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence stressed that to achieve the Treaty’s goal of preventing GBV, it requires “unyielding commitment” from all stakeholders to “end the sacrifice of women’s bodies at the altars of trade surpluses and military practices”. She also urged stakeholders to expand the focus of these discussions from the impact of weapons on women in conflict situations, to women in all regions, especially those plagues by high levels of armed violence, including the Carribean region.

OCT 24: Presentation of Control Arms ATT Monitor Annual Report 2018 and Launch of the ATT-BAP report “ATT Annual Reports in Review: Living up to the Expectations?” 

This side event presented two reports that contribute to the effective monitoring of the ATT implementation and the Treaty’s transparency and reporting obligations. Control Arms’ ATT Monitor’s discrepancy analysis shows these challenges in practical terms—namely, that only 1.6 percent of transactions captured in ATT annual reports include exports that correspond exactly with imports reported where the type of weapon and country are the same. Similarly, a detailed analysis offered by Rachel Stohl of ATT-BAP identified trends that are worrisome, including a decrease in reporting rates, an increased lack of knowledge over arms transfers, and difficulty in assessing the application of the ATT. Peter Horne of Australia described these findings as sobering when considering the lack of compliance and challenges faced by States Parties to the ATT in reporting. Frank Groome of Ireland highlighted the three categories of reports submitted by States Parties—those not submitted or not made public, those that lack enough information to properly assess whether Treaty obligations were met, and those that provided comprehensive and detailed information.

OCT 26: Report from the ATT Fourth Conference of States Parties (CSP 2018) and Prospects for CSP2019

This annual side event offered a broad range of perspectives on progress made to date within the ATT framework and expectations for the year ahead. Ambassador Takamizawa of Japan as President of CSP2018 highlighted key outcomes, including its focus on diversion, and the discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals while Ambassador Karklins of Latvia outlined priorities of the Latvian Presidency for CSP 2019:

1) implementation and compliance with the Treaty
2) reduction of gender-based violence
3) engagement with civil society and industry
4) addressing financial issues
5) improving reporting on implementation of the ATT.

Anna Macdonald of Control Arms shared common concerns over the decline in reporting levels, and reporting discrepancies, which are an impediment to transparency and implementation. She also stressed that what is really missing from the ATT process is a focus on problematic arms transfers and called on States Parties to take action towards making the ATT’s goal of reducing human suffering a reality. Dumisani Dladla Head of the ATT Secretariat echoed that the objectives and purposes of the ATT can be realized only with effective Treaty implementation. He noted that reporting challenges could be caused in part by the movement of personnel within governments, non-establishment of national points of contact, and technical challenges. He stressed the need for different reporting options for states parties in order to alleviate these challenges.


Control Arms actively contributed to other side event including on the ATT Voluntary Trust Fund in which Control Arms member Eugene Ngalim of Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace (CAMYOSFOP) spoke about the role of implementing partners and shared his experiences with a VTF-funded project carried out in Cameroon.

Two regional meetings with the African and Caricom groups enabled in-depth exploration of the Treaty’s relevance for thee regions, while a roundtable on engagement with industry explored ways in which stakeholders concerns can be addressed within the Treaty mechanisms. Control Arms team members actively participated in many other side events which explored a range of topics, including armed drones, explosive weapons in populated areas and regional disarmament.



A/C.1/73/L.8 – The Arms Trade Treaty
Cosponsors: Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Zambia.
Voting result in First Committee as a whole: 151-0-30
Voting result in the First Committee on PP8 (taking note of the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda): 153-0-18
Voting result in the First Committee on OP4 (encourages the universalization of the ATT): 138-0-35
Voting result in the First Committee on OP9 (acknowledges synergies between the UNPoA and the ATT): 136-2-35
Voting result in the General Assembly: TBD

This year’s Arms Trade Treaty resolution, was both one of the most successful – receiving the highest number of co-sponsors since 2006 and one of the most substantive, containing stronger language in a number of areas:

  • PP9 [new paragraph] – recognising the negative impact of unregulated trade in conventional weapons and ammunition on women, men, girls and boys as well as that the ATT is the first international instrument to call upon states to consider the risk of GBV and violence against women and children
  • OP3 – which expresses concern about unpaid assessed contributions
  • OP7 – referencing ammunition
  • OP8 – that encourages steps to prevent diversion
  • OP9 – recognizes the added value of the outcome of the UN Programme of Action’s Third Review Conference, and synergies between the instruments
  • OP10 – calls on states to update their initial implementation reports
  • OP11 – encourages the full and equal participation of women in Treaty implementation
  • OP14 – encourages the engagement of “underrepresented stakeholders”.

This resolution was adopted with 151 votes in favour, 0 votes against, and 30 abstentions, a high 100 co-sponsors – an encouraging sign of momentum. Afghanistan, Guinea Bissau, Suriname, St. Vincent, Seychelles and Turkey all co-sponsored the resolution for the first time while Fiji changed their vote from an abstention last year to a yes vote. 12 ATT States Parties did not co-sponsor the resolution this year.

There were five other resolutions adopted at this year that include references to the ATT:

A/C.1/73/L.21 – Women, Disarmament, Arms Control and non-Proliferation
Lead sponsors: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Zambia
Adopted in First Committee as a whole without a vote
Voting result in First Committee on PP10 (refers to the GBV provision in the ATT): 149-0-23

A/C.1/73/L.63 – “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects”
Welcomes the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in the scope of the ATT
Adopted as a whole in the First Committee without a vote
Voting result in the First Committee on PP7: 173-2-1
Voting result in the First Committee on OP6: 174-2-1

A/C.1/73/L.35 – Consolidation of peace through practical disarmament measures”
Encourages the ATT States Parties to contribute financially to the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF), if in a position to do so
Adopted as a whole in the First Committee without a vote
Voting result in the First Committee on PP9: 162-2-8
Voting result in the First Committee on OP6:

A/C.1/73/L.56 – UN Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
Encourages the Regional Centre to “further develop activities in all countries of the region in the important areas of peace, disarmament and development and to provide, upon request and in accordance with its mandate, support to Member States of the region in the national implementation of relevant instruments, inter alia… the Arms Trade Treaty.”
Adopted in the First Committee without a vote

A/C.1/73/L.38 – United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific
Takes note of a technical and legal assistance project aimed to assist the Philippines to build capacity towards the Treaty’s ratification
Adopted in the First Committee without a vote

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