Friday, July 13, 2012

Women's participation in the diplomatic negotiations on an ATT

by Jasmin Nario-Galace, IANSA Women’s Network
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for increased women’s participation in decision-making processes that relate to peace. The negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is one such process as its goal, in the perspective of many, is to save lives.
The list of participants in the meeting held in July 2012 showed that of 669 participants, 168 were women. That is 25% of the total. In the Fourth Preparatory Committee for the ATT process held on February 2012, women’s participation was at 20%.

Of 102 delegations that submitted names of participants, 13 had women on top of the list. That is 13% of the total. This indicates that leadership in this particular process is very much in the hands of men. 91 States did not indicate names of participants. 

Mongolia and Saint Lucia have sent an all-woman delegation. Bahamas, Romania, St. Vincent, Samoa, and Slovenia had 67% women in their delegation. More than half of the delegates of Finland, New Zealand, Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago are women. Meanwhile, half of the participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Lebanon, Liberia, Norway, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka, and Suriname are women.

Twenty-seven States did not have women in their delegations based on the list circulated by the UN. These were: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ghana, Grenada, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Venezuela.

Campaigners from various organizations such as the IANSA Women’s Network are lobbying for the inclusion of gender language in the treaty text. They are hoping that States will include a criterion in the ATT that States shall not transfer arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. 

At the time of this writing, twenty-seven States have openly supported the inclusion of gender language in the treaty. These are Iceland, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Ghana, Republic of Korea, Ireland, UK, Australia, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Kenya, Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Turkey, Belgium, Sweden, Botswana, Denmark,  New Zealand, Samoa, Liberia, Zambia, and Malawi. Many of them have suggested that gender language be included in the criteria. The Holy See and ten organizations of the United Nations also emphasized the impact of irresponsible transfers on women.

The UN General Assembly has expressed its concerns about the pervasiveness of violence against women noting that such violence seriously impairs women’s ability to exercise their fundamental human rights. The ATT is an opportunity for Member States to build on their commitments to such rights.

Will the delegates of the diplomatic negotiations on the ATT choose to stand between the perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence and the women victims?

That remains to be seen.