ATT 1st PrepCom: Side Event: How to Implement an Arms Trade Treaty

July 18 2010, 4:21 PM by Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW)

Report – Wednesday, 2010-07-14 Side Event – “How To Implement an Arms Trade Treaty?”
By Verena Simmel

Oxfam, Saferworld and the Center for International Trade & Security (CITS) at the University of Georgia held a panel discussion on ‘the National Implementation of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty’ on Wednesday, 14 July 2010. The panelists included H.E. Mr. Paul van den Ijssel, Netherlands Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament; Anne-Charlotte Merell Wetterwik, CITS; Roy Isbister, Saferworld; Paul Pasnicu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania; and Martin Butcher, Oxfam. Martin Butcher started the presentation by introducing a practical guide which should assist states in realizing what their obligations under a future ATT would be. He mentioned that the guide was a collaborative project between NGOs and governments, which provide different perspectives on the issue.

Roy Isbister focused on the context of the implementation guide and how it can be utilized. He stated that since the work on ATT began, it was generally assumed that the treaty would be implemented on a national level; however, it will not give carte blanche to states party, as there will be certain obligations which member states of the ATT will have to fulfill. Mr. Isbister pointed out that countries with already sophisticated arms control systems in place will be able to deal with these obligations fairly easily. For states which are not in the position to immediately implement the required obligations, the guide should help in bridging gaps. Mr. Isbister asserted that the ATT is supposed to be effective and fair, but should not be a one-size-fits-all treaty, as the implementation of national systems on arms transfer controls need to respect national traditions.

Anne-Charlotte Merrell Wetterwik elaborated on the structure of the guide. Ms. Wetterwik said that the guide focuses on utilizing already existing national systems for providing basic components that could be used to implement a treaty, such as Licensing, Enforcement and External Outreach to Industry and International Partners. For each of those elements, Wetterwik said countries should ensure that there are legal requirements, institutions and procedures, training equipment and capacity as well as proof of implementation.

Paul Pasnicu from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs used the example of his country to show how to implement a functional export control system. Pasnicu stated that political will is vital, because such a system requires a large amount of resources, people and expertise. Mr. Pasnicu also highlighted the importance of appropriate primary and secondary legislation, which Romania tries to review every four to five years to adjust it to developments in international arms trade. Mr. Pasnicu also stressed the need to customize the system to the national arms trade of the country and to ensure close inter-agency cooperation domestically and internationally. The speaker emphasized the Romanian example on arms control, which includes running joint seminars and round tables on arms control, obliging every company to provide all information on a shipment five days before it is scheduled to occur, and publication of quarterly and annual reports on imports and exports, as well as licensing numbers.

Concluding the event, Roy Isbister stressed that the ATT negotiations represent a tremendous opportunity to address the prevailing weaknesses in the arms trade. Mr. Isbister emphasized that there is no need for states to wait until the treaty is signed to implement national control systems on arms transfer, specially the states with more rudimentary systems that will require more time to build capacity.

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

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