ATT 1st PrepCom: Day 10

July 23 2010, 11:53 AM by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

On Friday morning, the ATT PrepCom concluded its first session with some general remarks on the process and a few comments on the substance of the papers distributed yesterday. For the most part, delegations expressed their satisfaction with where they are in the process and what they got out of it. Most seemed optimistic that subsequent PrepComs would lead to further constructive developments in reaching agreement on the fundamental issues related to negotiating an Arms Trade Treaty, including its scope, objectives, and parameters. Overall, most delegations called for a spirit of compromise and consensus-building toward the conclusion, adoption, and entry into force of an ATT. They, along with many NGOs, are encouraging hard work between now and the next PrepCom in February in order to bridge the differences while maintaining the objective of a robust ATT that will have a real impact on human suffering that can be caused by the arms trade.

Comments on the Chair’s paper and facilitator’s summaries
The European Union said it considers the Chair’s Draft Paper to reflect, “in a generally balanced way, the opinions voiced and the suggestions made during this two-week session of the PrepCom.” The African Group welcomed the foundations that were laid during this PrepCom and Switzerland’s delegation agreed that states now have a good overview of delegations’ positions, while noting that these are sometimes opposed.

The Swiss delegate also commented that the Chair’s draft paper isn’t something to negotiate on, arguing that the text needs some careful redrafting in order to arrive at clear, predictable, unambiguous language that is required for the negotiation of a treaty.

A few delegations made specific suggestions on improving the text, while noting that these could be incorporated at a later stage. For example, Colombia suggested included adding a dispute resolution mechanism as a separate element of the Treaty while retaining the consultation and mediation element; including production in reference to transparency; and including a specific reference to end-users that are not authorized, including organized crime and terrorists, in the point on creating controls to prevent the deviation of conventional weapons.

The Egyptian delegation emphasized that none of the documents reflect consensus yet, but rather, are the result of a brainstorming exercise. Noting that everyone now has a clearer picture of the situation, the Egyptian representative, who served as a facilitator, also argued that with more time, the facilitator’s summaries could have been more extensive and clearer.

Iran’s delegate expressed some disappointment with the Chair’s draft paper, arguing that while it is unfair to say chair’s draft doesn’t reflect the discussion, it is -equally unfair to say that it reflects the total discussion. He highlighted the perceived linkage made between diversion/illicit trade in arms and almost all global problems in the principles section of the paper, saying this is naïve and unrealistic. He said the objectives section is “below expectations,” arguing it should be “strong enough to convince external observer of raison d’être of the Treaty and its foundations.”

General comments
Pakistan’s delegation argued that in terms of the arms trade, “state primary ought to be upheld at all cost”. It reiterated its belief that transactions between two sovereign states that are not subject to a UN arms embargo should not be second guessed. The delegation also urged that whatever instrument emerges from negotiations should avoid micromanagement, which would minimize the prospects of the Treaty’s success.

Australia’s delegation said it believed the complexities faced by ATT delegations are “fundamentally resolvable” and, along with many other delegations, called on everyone to do their homework in the intersessional period in order to help work move along at the next PrepCom session.

Civil society
Several delegations highlighted the positive role played by civil society during the course of the PrepCom, with Trinidad and Tobago calling civil society “the conscience of the movement”. The Australian delegation welcomed civil society’s contributions, expertise, and “ability to raise our understanding of the impact of the arms trade”. Liberia’s delegation also welcomed civil society engagement in the process.

Next PrepCom
The next PrepCom will meet 28 February–4 March 2011 at UN Headquarters in New York.
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