Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The ATT: a start to challenging the status quo

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

The adoption of the first ever Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is being billed by many governments and civil society organizations as an historic event. And indeed it is. This marks the first time that the General Assembly has adopted legally-binding rules to regulate international transfers of conventional weapons. The ATT is also the first treaty to recognize the links between the international arms trade and gender-based violence. Both of these firsts signify meaningful advancement for international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights, and peace and security. However, the treaty’s deficiencies mean that it could be suseptible to manipulation and abuse by those who want to continue profiting from the arms trade. To ensure that the text adopted on 2 April makes a difference in practice, governments, civil society, and the United Nations, as they begin to implement and interpret the treaty, must avoid legitimizing the international arms trade and irresponsible transfers.

Looking to the future of the ATT: shifting attention to implementation

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War

After more than a decade of advocating for and working towards a robust and comprehensive arms trade treaty (ATT), relevant stakeholders can now mark a conclusion to the first step in this process. This was an imperfect process that yielded an imperfect treaty. Nevertheless, the task now is to take what has been adopted and ensure that it has the most effective impact possible on the ground so that the human suffering caused by the illicit and unregulated arms trade—the original purpose of and impetus for this process—is prevented to the greatest extent possible.


Monday, April 1, 2013

The failure of consensus

by Ray Acheson and Beatrice Fihn, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

The events of Thursday evening mark the second time that governments have failed to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by consensus.


Distance runner

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

Let us be clear about this: the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that will soon to come to pass is historic, but not necessarily epic. Ambassador Woolcott and his team (including the diplomats who chaired thematic consultations) did a masterful job of staying true to their mandate—a treaty with some robustness crafted in accordance with consensus provisions. We’re all tired, but we're not nearly done yet, and for reasons beyond the blocking of consensus that we witnessed yesterday.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

A tale of two treaties

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
Since Friday, when the President released his second draft of the arms trade treaty (ATT), people have asked, “Whose treaty is this?” Is this a treaty that will protect human beings from armed conflict and armed violence, or is this a treaty that will protect the profits of arms manufacturers and exporters? Will it promote the interests of cooperative human security or militaristic state security? The release of the third draft text on Wednesday does not settle these questions.


Preventing gender-based violence: a binding requirement in the new draft ATT text

by Ray Acheson, Maria Butler, and Sofia Tuvestad, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

To the question posed in the ATT Monitor earlier this weekis the prevention of armed gender-based violence (GBV) important enough to screen for in export assessments?—the answer is yes! The final draft Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) text released on Wednesday indicated that preventing armed gender-based violence is indeed important enough to be part of mandatory export assessments. 


New baby on the way: is it to be an orphan or everyone’s child?

by Jonathan Frerichs, World Council of Churches

After decades of gestation and years in labor, a new treaty seems well on its way to being born. What lies ahead for this new member of the global village? Will it be an orphan with few prospects in life? Or will there be many to take it in their charge and to give it a future? The almost impossible parentage involved looks certain to keep such questions alive.


Secretarial pool

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
The Arms Trade Treaty is now in the hands of states that will adopt the text, block the text, or send it on to the General Assembly or Secretary General to be disposed of in other ways.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Problems and proposals: how to close loopholes in the draft ATT

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

With only one day left until the final draft text of the arms trade treaty (ATT) is released, all participants have expended tremendous efforts to either improve or further undermine the current draft text. As it stands, the draft is not reflective of the positions of the vast majority of states. It is certainly not reflective of the urgency of regulating the irresponsible arms trade and preventing its most horrifying effects. As the Liberian delegation said, the current draft elevates the views of arms exporters above those of the victims of those exports. Thus states that want a robust treaty have been actively proposing language to close some of the treaty’s biggest loopholes and ensure the treaty is comprehensive and effective.

Groundhog Day?

by Dr. Natalie J. Goldring

During the first few days of the “final” ATT conference, diplomats appeared to be making steady progress toward an Arms Trade Treaty that might be worthy of the name. Countries seemed focused on creating the strongest possible treaty, with useful interventions on the scope of the treaty and criteria for evaluating—and denying—arms transfers that were likely to pose humanitarian and human rights concerns. Joint statements from groups of diverse countries addressed issues such as public reporting, gender-based violence, and development. Moreover, the specific text suggestions offered by the so-called “skeptics” indicated a focus on ensuring that their interests were reflected in a treaty text, rather than simply blocking progress toward a treaty.


Final appeal

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

The clock continues to tick on this final negotiating session and the list of objections seems to be lengthening rather than shrinking. Moreover, these objections are generally not, as we had hoped, tied to specific intentions on the part of delegations to either adopt, abstain from, or walk away completely from the “final” text to be presented by Ambassador Woolcott Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Honing in on the indispensables in the second draft text

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War
With the release of the new President’s Non-Paper last Friday, delegations have been carefully examining the text in order to identify what has been improved, what has remained the same, and what new ambiguities have been introduced. Levels of satisfaction with the new draft text were varied, from the Arab Group’s statement that “none” of its views were represented to other delegations that were more positive on the draft.


Remembering the survivors: How the Arms Trade Treaty could forget the millions of victims of armed violence

by Eileen McCarthy, Action on Armed Violence

A strong and robust Arms Trade Treaty has the opportunity to save lives around the world. However, the current draft text fails to provide for those who have and will lose the most from an unregulated trade of arms—the victims of armed violence themselves.

A step back in the regulation of SALW transfers

by Hector Guerra, International Action Network on Small Arms

Small arms and light weapons (SALW) were included in the scope of the 20 March President’s Non-Paper. This is a legacy of the enormous pressure exerted by the majority of participating delegations in last July's diplomatic conference and in spite of stern opposition by a few others. Several recent statements expressed how relevant and indispensable this inclusion is, given the role of SALW in armed violence worldwide, both in and outside armed conflicts.


Truth or consequences

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

The latest draft text has been picked over robustly by delegations and NGOs, some of which object to language, some to themes and concepts, and some to what they feel is a willful ‘ignoring’ of their previous suggestions.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The second draft: a treaty behind its time

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

The President’s second draft of the arms trade treaty (ATT) released Friday evening fails to resolve almost all of the major problems in the draft text. While some language has been tweaked to improve clarity and a new section has been added on diversion, the most fundamental loopholes remain. The draft as it stands is ultimately inadequate to truly prevent human suffering or enhance peace and security.

New ATT text fails in preventing armed gender-based violence

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

The provisions for preventing gender-based violence (GBV) in the President’s second draft arms trade treaty (ATT) text continue to undermine existing international law and obligations.


Control Arms reaction to President’s Non-Paper of March 22nd (Second Draft ATT)

Control Arms is highly disappointed with the first ‘substantive’ draft from ATT Final Conference President, Amb. Peter Woolcott of Australia. After extensive and broad consultations—following seven years of deliberations inside the UN—the draft should have clearly reflected the voice of the overwhelming majority of Member States.

Gift wrapped

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
The most significant change to the new text is the section on diversion. While the text still reflects language that more tentatively than definitively binds, there is at the very least a reinforcement of the responsibility to end diversion as a key rationale for the years of preparation and negotiations which will—this week or sometime soon—result in a series of formally acknowledged obligations within the realm of arms transfers.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No real transparency, no real treaty

by Haley E Adams, NYU Law Students for Human Rights and Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

Through deliberations during the first week of the arms trade treaty (ATT) conference, transparency has become a buzzword, but it is not meaningless jargon: the notion of transparency strikes to core purpose of this Treaty. Without mandatory public reporting, the high common standards sought by states parties will be meaningless, mere words belying a stark and growing reality of the irresponsible and illicit arms trade measurable in staggering human costs. This treaty cannot succeed as a binding legal instrument without transparency in its implementation: words ripen into reality through collective compliance and mutual confidence. Mandatory, standardized compliance reporting among states parties is, then, the keystone to an operative set of collectively beneficial arms regulations.

A meaningful ATT is our “overriding” priority

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

During Wednesday’s negotiations on various aspects of the draft arms trade treaty (ATT), delegations discussed two issues that are particularly critical for the effectiveness of the treaty. One is the concept of “overriding” risk in the context of national risk assessments for arms transfers. The other is article 5(2) of the 26 July draft text, which seems to allow states to “contract out” of the ATT by entering into other agreements. The resolution of these issues will largely determine if the treaty is robust and meaningful, or if it is not worth the paper upon which it is written. 


International press and the Arms Trade Treaty

by Lia Petridis Maiello, Global Action to Prevent War

The final round of the arms trade treaty negotiations has been attracting global attention, expressed by numerous press outlets worldwide, mainstream as well as alternative, signaling a growing and strengthening awareness process throughout the world and revealing a justified sense of urgency. An awareness of the illicit arms trade’s mortal consequences has manifested itself as a comprehensive matter of conscience, a situation that is as a result calling for global provisions now. It also shows the willingness to publicly negotiate and back a legal framework that has the strength and capability to regulate a global, $70 billion business. An idea that was initiated by a group of Nobel peace prize laureates in the mid-1990’s seems to have come to fruition.

Reaching a robust ATT: Over, around, or through the major exporters?

by Dr. Natalie J. Goldring

Over the last few days
, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiators have made significant progress. More than 100 countries supported a statement on Monday that advocated significant strengthening of the July 26th working draft. Even countries that had consistently expressed skepticism about an ATT were presenting suggestions for specific text changes. For the so-called “skeptics”, this was a significant change from their approach during the July negotiating conference, in which they frequently made long rhetorical comments that were largely devoid of specifics. It seemed as though even the skeptics had concluded the ATT train was leaving the station and they had decided to be on board.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scope and criteria: Getting to the “operational” heart of the ATT

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War
After a lengthy discussion on Preamble, Principles, and Goals and Objectives, delegations began debate on Scope, Prohibitions and Criteria. These sections of the Treaty are surely at the heart of any ATT’s effectiveness and will guide how, and under what circumstances, national assessments will be carried out in practice. Given the framework that has been set for the ATT—national risk assessments conducted for transfers of weapons covered under the Treaty’s scope according to an agreed set of criteria—construction of these sections is most vital to determining if the Treaty will actually impact international peace and security and address the many consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms. As has been noted previously in this ATT Monitor, there are certain elements of these sections that simply cannot be compromised if the ATT is to be considered a “success” by those that are working for a text that will positively impact arms transfer policy making it not just better regulated, but also more responsible. 


Major recipients today, major suppliers tomorrow?

by Tilman Brück and Paul Holtom, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

The release of SIPRI’s new data on international arms transfers coincided with the first day of the final UN conference to negotiate a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). During the last round of negotiations at the UN in July 2012, the discussions seemed far removed from the realities of weapons being smuggled, traded or mis-used in violent conflicts around the world, with devastating effects on millions of innocent people.

Compelling states to transfer arms?

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

Over the past two days, delegations have discussed many proposals aimed at either strengthening or weakening the draft arms trade treaty (ATT). Some of the proposals aimed at weakening the text have focused on the so-called “right” of states to import weapons. Exemplified by the intervention by Venezuela on Tuesday morning, a number of importing states continue to seek guarantees that exporting states must authorize arms transfers except in very extreme circumstances. A number of states subscribe to the notion that the ATT should facilitate the arms trade, ostensibly out of concern that an effective treaty could be used as a political weapon. However, provisions that effectively compel exporters to transfer arms are inconsistent with the core objective of the treaty: to prevent human suffering caused by irresponsible trade.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mexican menu

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

As the “final” negotiating conference gets underway, there remain deep divisions among stakeholders regarding the baseline adequacy of any treaty text that might find consensus over the next nine days. For many such stakeholders, a treaty that does little more than provide legal sanction for arms manufacturing states to determine their own transfers-related standards is insufficient at best and dangerous at worst.


Consensus, compromise, and strength

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War

The opening of the “Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty” and the general exchange of views saw a myriad of statements from Foreign Ministers and other delegates from diverse global regions. There was a general commitment by most delegates that the time for serious discussion on the concrete details of the text has come and that overly general statements or continued reiteration of well-known state positions has passed. Despite this positive sense of commitment and urgency, there remains a yawning gap between the necessity of reaching consensus through unfettered compromise and the commitment to retain a strong treaty and fight for certain indispensable components and provisions without which an ATT would be meaningless in practice.


108 countries say: don’t adopt a weak ATT!

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF

On the opening morning of continued negotiations for an arms trade treaty (ATT), 108 countries warned that a weak treaty could serve to legitimize the irresponsible and illegal arms trade. Of course, this would be the exact opposite of the original objective of the ATT. Yet this is a real possibility, especially given the position of many of the major arms producing and exporting states.


An example of language on gender: the Landmine Ban Treaty process

by Rebecca Gerome | NYU Law Students for Human Rights and WILPF

The 26 July draft’s language on women and gender is so weak that it risks representing a significant step backwards in global efforts towards gender equality. As WILPF has noted before, the only mention of gender is in 4(6)(b), which only provides for optional consideration of “feasible measures,” generating a legal contradiction with 4(2) on human rights and international humanitarian law. States’ existing obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill women’s rights are not subject to optional considerations. Read the article by Maria Butler and Sofia Tuvestad here


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Preventing a stillborn ATT

by Daniel Mack, Instituto Sou da Paz, Brazil

For over a decade, civil society has had high hopes for the Arms Trade Treaty. Not because of unreal expectations, but because of real needs—only a strong ATT will make any difference to actually “prevent the international trade in conventional arms from contributing to human suffering”.

Make it binding: include gender-based violence in the ATT

by Sofia Tuvestad, WILPF Sweden and Maria Butler, PeaceWomen/WILPF

As UN member states gather for the second Diplomatic Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty, they must recognize their responsibility to prevent human suffering and adopt a legally-binding treaty that applies human rights obligations to the international transfer of arms. An ATT that fails to accurately reflect existing international human rights law, and international humanitarian law, would be a catastrophic failure. 


Recommendations for success

by Katherine Prizeman, Global Action to Prevent War

As the “Final Conference for an Arms Trade Treaty” begins this week in New York, it is important to approach the next nine days of negotiations energetically and strategically in order to achieve a robust instrument that will have tangible impacts on the ground. It is not enough to simply adopt a treaty—it must be a treaty worthy of implementation that will actually impact arms transfer policies and, in turn, promote international peace and security. The draft treaty currently on the table is insufficient in many respects, but a stronger, fully implemented treaty would go a long way towards diminishing the devastating consequences of the illicit and irresponsible arms trade.

Paper cut

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War

We have begun what is billed as the ‘Final Negotiating Conference” on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), one that we expect will either produce agreement on a Treaty or pass on the process to some alternative structure for bringing about international standards on arms transfers. 


Another chance for the arms trade treaty

by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
At the end of last July, many people—diplomats, civil society activists, UN staff—went home disappointed. After six years of preparatory work, negotiations had failed to produce a robust treaty to regulate international transfers of conventional weapons. These next nine days will offer a second chance to get it right. We must seize this opportunity to develop a treaty that will truly make an impact on armed violence.