ATT 1st PrepCom: Day Three Recaps

July 20 2010, 9:50 AM by Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW)

Report – Wednesday, 2010-07-14 Morning Session
By Zunaira Choudhary

At Wednesday’s morning session of the ATT Preparatory Committee, over thirty delegations continued the conversation on the principles governing a potential ATT and the significant elements that should be considered for inclusion, including Egypt, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Mexico, Iran, Germany, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, ECOWAS and Italy. The Chair circulated a draft on the principles articulated at the previous day’s session and promised a second paper at the afternoon session.

Speaking once again on behalf of the Group of Arab States, Egypt noted that the Arab states had adopted a common position at the conclusion of a workshop on the ATT organized by the League of Arab States and UNIDIR in late June. Egypt stated that the provisions of an ATT must be non-discriminatory and easy to implement.

Belgium, addressing the committee on behalf of the European Union and other European countries, included amongst its proposed principles the right of states to self-defense and the provisions of the UN Charter, IHL, and HR law. Sentiments suggesting that a future ATT should reflect the principles of the aforementioned bodies of law were echoed by many states, including Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea. Italy aligned itself with the Belgian position and advised that the Committee use 1996 UN Guidelines on Arms Transfers as a reference, stating that it is “always safe to build on what has already been agreed.”

In this discussion of the values of a potential ATT, Norway asserted that aside from the values of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the right to self-defense already articulated in the UN Charter, the eventual worth of the treaty will be measured by its contribution to decreasing human suffering. Spain also discussed the importance of incorporating a human dimension to the conversation, speaking on the linked security of the individual and the development of the state. Mexico affirmed the Norwegian reminder of the constant relevancy of the UN Charter, and further commented on the importance of considering the various phases of the life cycle of a weapon.

The United Kingdom stated that there is no need to re-list the principles of the UN Charter or highlight specific ones as especially important in a future ATT, explaining that “the Charter is the Charter and we are all bound to it.” The UK later clarified, however, that it would agree to such a re-listing if many other states supported that notion.

Iran emphasized that a potential ATT should contain a commitment by the parties to refrain from engaging in actions constituting “undue restrictions” or “unilateral coercive measures undermining the rights of states.” In addition, Iran suggested that the transfer of technological knowledge not be restricted under the treaty.

Pakistan listed amongst the principles it advocated to be included in a future ATT the right to self-defense, the right to self-determination, and the suggestion that a transaction between two states not be subjected to the provisions of the treaty. Pakistan recommended that the PrepCom discuss whether major arms producers should maintain certain standards on the quantity of production, calling it another “angle for study”.

The United States stated that uncertainty on the distinction between “principles, objectives and necessary elements” may have arisen due to the considerable overlap of these terms. The United States also mentioned that because an ATT will undoubtedly create new requirements for states currently without the national capacity to meet such commitments, there is a responsibility to assist those countries in developing necessary national capacities.

Egypt commented on the Israeli statement that respecting the right of self-determination would result in the transfer of arms to terrorists, stating that such a suggestion “assumes that people under occupation are terrorists.”

Zunaira Choudhary is an intern with the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security. Christian Ciobanu, an intern with the International Action Network on Small Arms, contributed additional reporting.

Report – Wednesday, 2010-07-14 Afternoon Session
By Poonam Sethi

The afternoon session of the Preparatory Committee on July 14th began with High Representative Roberto Garcia Moritan, noting that Australia and France are to represent Western Europe, and South Africa and Nigeria are to represent the Africa Group as members of the bureau.

Suriname, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, asserted that the ATT must address the transfer of conventional weapons, transparency of and accountability for transfers, the principle of state responsibility for possible diversion of shipments, and providing and maintaining human security and protecting human rights, calling these “indispensable principles”. Trinidad and Tobago agreed, stating that they believe states must be accountable for weapons transfers. Trinidad and Tobago argued that states should refuse transfer of weapons if those weapons can or will violate international law or international humanitarian law, and that there must be sanctions against those who violate the ATT. The United Arab Emirates called for the ATT to criminalize certain offenses, and informed the delegations present that they see the treaty as having a serious shortcoming if this is not included. Egypt added that the issue of accountability and subsequent sanctions are important and integral for the treaty not to be abused.

Trinidad and Tobago supported the inclusion of 7+1+1 in the ATT, as well as transparency and accountability; Pakistan asserted that the ATT must include 7+1+1 as well as parts. The Netherlands argued that the scope of weapons should be flexible with emerging technologies. Norway stated that scope should include weapons and ammunition, as well as technologies and services. Tanzania agreed that the ATT should cover SALW. Uruguay asserted that the treaty should have a chapter on definitions for clarification but that it should avoid defining specific weapons.

France claimed that the strength of the ATT lies in its legal provisions; the ATT should address the ways in which human rights and international humanitarian law are violated, and the way violations take place, including corruption and money laundering. Morocco expressed their desire that the ATT include money laundering and transnational crime. The Russian Federation questioned where to put provisions concerning diversions from legal to illicit channels. The Russian Federation also advocated countering illicit trade as part of the ATT’s main objectives as the major point of the ATT is preventing arms falling into illicit channels.

New Zealand believes the ATT should respect “international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law”. The goals of the ATT, according to the New Zealand delegation, must include the reduction of “human suffering and disproportionate impact on civilian populations, caused by irresponsible conventional arms transfers”.

Syria addressed the comments of Israel from a previous session, stating that they believe Israel did not want the ATT to tackle self-determination so that Israel would be allowed to transfer arms to territory it occupies. However, Syria noted that this runs counter to the right of Israel to self-determination, and is also used as pretext for Israel to justify crimes of state terrorism and human rights violations against Arabs; Syria also highlighted that this rejection of self-determination also allows for the accumulation of conventional and non-conventional weapons to perpetuate occupation and violation of the rights of the occupied.

Iran referred to monitoring as a “critical issue” for inclusion in the ATT. Trinidad and Tobago agreed, stating that monitoring mechanisms are necessary to ensure the provisions of the treaty are being honored, to assess if the treaty mechanisms are adequate, and to see if there will be a need for future amendments. The Netherlands also believes that the review process should include annual conferences of state parties.

Sierra Leone concluded the session by stating that the ATT must also address victim assistance, which varies by age and gender. Tanzania, Uruguay and Norway echoed these sentiments.

Poonam Sethi is an intern with the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security. Verena Simmel, an intern with the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, contributed additional reporting.

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