ATT 1st PrepCom: Day Nine

July 22 2010, 1:35 PM by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

On Thursday morning, the ATT PrepCom received summaries from the three facilitators who coordinated discussions on scope, parameters, and implementation of the Treaty. The PrepCom also received the Chair’s Draft Paper on elements, principles, and objectives. A short discussion followed the release of these texts, with a few delegations making general or specific comments on the drafts. All of the reports and papers are essentially compilations of views expressed over the past two weeks. None of the texts strive for a middle ground, but rather, provide a list of possible ingredients that will have to be further refined during the course of the remaining ATT PrepComs and negotiating conference. All of the facilitators and the Chair repeatedly expressed that these texts do not serve to “prejudge” negotiations.

The Facilitator’s Summary on Scope provides an overview of states opinions on what types of weapons and activities should be covered by an ATT. Among other things, it notes that most states consider the UN Register of Conventional Arms to be a good starting point, though many believe the Treaty would need to include an annex of other weapon systems, or broader definitions of the UN Register categories and the inclusion of other categories/related items. The summary notes that disagreements over the inclusion of ammunition still remain.

It also highlights that while a range of activities and transactions were suggested by states, most delegations called for definitions for these transactions and activities. A range of definitions were suggested, drawing on existing international definitions. Some states, the report noted, also want an “exceptions” section in Treaty, which would include internal transfers, national ownership of weapons, sporting and hunting rifles for recreational purposes, and antique weapons.

The Facilitator’s Summary on Parameters highlighted some key points of discussion, including: the need for objective and non-discriminatory criteria; implementation of parameters as a state responsibility and the potential for higher national standards; and transparency, consistency, and predictability in the application of parameters.

The summary also covers suggested methodologies for applying criteria, including how to assess whether the proposed arms transfer would be necessary, such as risk of adverse impact, patterns of violation, etc. The discussion also covered possible language for degrees of risk, whether reasons for denial should be provided, and whether guidelines could assist states in interpreting and applying the agreed criteria consistently.

The report also includes possible specific criteria that were suggested by states, such as, inter alia, consideration of international legal obligations; potential consequences; potential risk of diversion of arms; potential use of arms to violate international humanitarian or human rights law; consistency of the transfer with existing agreements; potential impact on the receiving state’s disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, sustainable economic and social development, and potential contribution to the displacement of people; the defence and security needs of the receiving state, keeping in mind the principle of the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources, and considering levels of stockpiles and stockpile management; transparency; and proliferation record and risk of corruption.

The Facilitator’s Summary on Implementation and Application notes that preferences ranged from a Treaty that should be implemented solely at the national discretion of its members and one that should impose national obligations but rely on an international body to assist in implementation, enforcement, verification, monitoring, and application. The summary report covers a wide variety of perspectives on national obligations (both principles and practical measures), transparency measures, international mechanisms and other measures, and added value and incentives for universality.

Chair’s Draft Paper on elements, principles, and objectives
Like, the facilitator’s summaries, the Chair’s draft paper takes into account a wide range of proposals. The Chair emphasized that all three sections of his paper are an indicative and that nothing is to prevent the PrepCom from including other items that may not have been identified or defined at present.

The elements section of the paper provides a sketch of the possible sections for an ATT, from preambles and definitions to implementation and follow-up. It includes 14 sections and many more subsections.
The principles section is written as a possible preamble of the Treaty and includes elements citing the UN Charter, the adverse effects of the illicit and unregulated arms trade, rights of states, needs and gaps that an ATT could fill, etc. It is a compilation of suggestions states have made since the beginning of this PrepCom.

The goals and objectives section includes items such as establishing the highest possible common international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms; preventing and eradicating the illicit trade in conventional arms; preventing international transfers of conventional arms in a variety of circumstances; contributing to international and regional peace, security, and stability; promoting transparency and accountability; creating controls to prevent diversion to illicit markets and unauthorized users; and promoting the goals and objectives of the UN Charter.

Comments from delegations
After the introduction of the summaries and Chair’s paper, a few delegations made comments. For example, Pakistan’s delegate cautioned that the assertion that dealings between member states are of a suspect nature needs to be avoided. He also reiterated that while the PrepCom will hopefully be able to agree on commonly agreed criteria to guide decisions of states, in case of disputes or objection, there has to be some standard to refer to. Mexico’s delegation called for the draft paper to include criminalization of importer violations and reference to the establishment of an international body. Egypt’s delegate expressed caution about the inclusion of human rights in the document, arguing that some counties that promote human rights in this context ignore it in the nuclear disarmament context, suggesting there is perhaps a hidden agenda when it comes to the ATT.
For the most part, delegations supported the texts and called for states to strive to reach a middle ground in future discussions.

What’s next
The PrepCom is not meeting Thursday afternoon; the Chair will hold consultations with delegations to discuss the summaries and his draft paper. Tomorrow morning, he hopes to wrap up this first session of the PrepCom by noon.
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