Armed Violence in the #Armstreaty (ATT)

March 16 2011, 8:20 AM  by Øistein Thorsen

The second PrepCom to the negotiations of an arms trade treaty (ATT)
closed on a high in terms of inclusion of armed violence in the
treaty. A very strong statement by Mexico, on behalf of Bahamas,
Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Trinidad & Tobago
and Jamaica, called for the inclusion of armed violence in paragraph 9
of the principles as well as in other parts of the treaty text, such
as the section on goals and objectives.Posted by Serena Olgiati, Action on Armed Violence – www.aoav.org.uk

That intervention and the call from CARICOM countries to recognize the
human impact of armed violence and the importance for armed violence
and not only armed conflict to be included in the treaty text,
skyrocketed the number of countries that publicly mentioned the need
to include armed violence in the existing text, from 3 up to 24. (15
CARICOM, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay, Zambia,
Norway and Nigeria).

Definitely CARICOM and part of Latin America have been champions not
only in supporting armed violence as a concept but in actively and
publicly calling for states to include it in several parts of the
treaty text.

It has to be said though that at this stage armed violence does not
appear in the latest version of the Chairman’s Draft Paper and that a
lot of effort still needs to be done to ensure that other European,
African and Asian countries vocally call for the inclusion of armed
violence in the treaty text. Disappointingly, some key core group
countries of the Geneva Declaration, failed to raise this issue during
debates. There is hope that this will change during the July
Preparatory Committee, now that some of the most affected countries in
the world have vocally raised it and do not seem prepared to
compromise on this.

We have seen this week that states are still debating whether this is
a treaty that puts humanitarian concerns at its core or whether it is
simply another trade treaty aiming at regulating one specific product:
arms! These antagonist positions have been reflected also in states’
reactions to the introduction of victim assistance provisions under
the international cooperation section. It is reassuring to see that
the revised text put forward by the Chair still contains two specific
paragraphs on victim assistance, although the scope of the provisions
has been narrowed down to victims of armed conflict instead of victims
of armed violence.

NGOs have been loud in calling on states to ensure that armed violence
is introduced not only in the principles and scope section but also as
a specific criterion, through which states should consider death and
injuries of armed violence, for example through the analyses of
homicide rates in one country, when assessing a specific arms
transfer. This latest point does not seem to have been taken on board
by states yet, partly because there is still a lack of clear
understanding of how armed violence could concretely be included as a
specific criterion and of what that would imply for states in reality.

NGOs have also called on states to put individuals and communities at
the centre of their negotiations and to ensure that assistance to all
victims of armed violence is included in the treaty. We have heard
with consternation though how some states have been vocally opposing
any inclusion of victim assistance in the treaty, considering that the
ATT is not the right forum to be debating this issue!

Finally, the UK Ambassador John Duncan informed delegates that he’d be
leaving his current place as Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control
& Disarmament. In its personal address to the plenary, he said “I hope
that the ATT will be a panacea for those suffering from armed violence
around the world!” And we hope that the UK, and all the other
delegations attending the preparatory committees will keep his words
close when negotiating the treaty text.

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