ATT 2nd PrepCom Summaries: March 1, 2011 (AM Session)

April 7 2011, 6:56 PM by sameerkanal

This post is the third in a series summarizing the statements given at the Second PrepCom for the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, held February 28-March 4, 2011 in New York. For more information on states’ positions, please visit our “Mapping the Arms Trade Treaty” project at

Tuesday, 3/1/2011, Morning Session

Iran agreed with the other countries who had previously noted that scope and parameters needed to be closely linked with the preamble of the treaty. Iran expressed its desire to begin with principles and goals, before moving onto scope and parameters. Iran felt that expanding the list of regulated items would be counterproductive, that the scope of both items and activities should be limited to ensure that the treaty could be implemented. In light of this, Iran agreed only with the inclusion of the UN Register of Conventional Arms’ seven categories, not including missiles due to an ‘ongoing process’ on missiles taking place outside the ATT negotiation framework. Iran stated that they ‘also disagree with the inclusion of any other items such as Small Arms and Light Weapons, munitions and ammunition, parts and components, technology and equipment.’ Iran supported utilizing the Programme of Action to address SALW rather than the ATT. They opposed the inclusion of parts, components, technology and equipment on the grounds that it would negatively affect development and the right of states to self-defense. Iran also proposed the inclusion of a new category under scope of ‘modern conventional arms,’ which would include electro-magnetic weapons, and in Iran’s view would ensure the continued relevance of the list of weapon types. With regards to activities for inclusion in scope, Iran said they supported only import and export’s inclusion, and while they were flexible regarding whether or not to include transit, but was strongly opposed to exemption for transfers of weapons between members of a military alliance. Finally, Iran supported the gradual reduction of manufacture of arms by arms-producing countries with the goal of promoting security at the lowest possible level of armament and military expenditure.

Hungary (EU)
Hungary, speaking on behalf of the European Union, argued in favor of a reference to the risk of corruption in transfers, and also the inclusion of corruption as a stand-alone criterion for evaluation of transfer, with a statement of the obligation states have to combat corruption. The European Union supported inclusion as a parameter compliance with UN Security Council resolutions and to regional organizations’ rules if the states are members of that organization. The European Union supported the prevention of transfers if they would violate international human rights law or International Humanitarian Law. Other criteria the EU advocated for were the compliance with international treaties and adverse effect on regional or internal stability, as well as risk of diversion to unauthorized end-users. Additionally, the European Union advocated for ‘consideration of the impact on the sustainable economic and social development of the receiving country.’ The European Union also supported making the list of parameters more binding upon countries in evaluation of possible transfers, with each being a requirement for the transfer’s approval.

Bangladesh viewed the Arms Trade Treaty as developing in the context of existing requirements and agreements rather than developing new requirements. Included in those existing requirements were the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions of 1949, the ICCPR and ICESCR, as well as the UDHR, and established precedents of customary international law. They viewed the ATT as ensuring that states follow existing international norms. Bangladesh also viewed the ATT as ensuring that states respect ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms including civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights. Bangladesh viewed brokering as a necessary component of the treaty’s scope, which they also believed should cover heavy weapons, small arms and light weapons, parts and components, munitions, ammunition and explosives, equipment, weapons used for internal security and dual-use items. Bangladesh viewed the activities list as needing to include all possible transfers. Bangladesh also viewed mechanisms for stockpile reduction and stockpile security as a possible inclusion to the treaty.

Brazil began by noting that criteria must be fully consistent with international law. Brazil advocated for two general provisions to be included – first, that states shall not conduct transfers unless expressly authorized by a credible authority of the recipient state. Secondly, states shall not authorize transfers to non-state actors unless authorized by the competent governmental authority of the recipient state. Making these two concepts law would be sufficient for Brazil to believe an ATT was justified. With regards to the specific criteria, Brazil said that the non-paper version [February 2011 version] could be improved. Brazil supported the inclusion of criteria related to compliance with Security Council actions taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, or other obligations under treaty or regional organization. However, Brazil rejected the sections of the Chairman’s non-paper which included as criteria the question of whether arms would be used in a manner that would negatively affect stability through increasing stockpiles, as well as if arms transfer would ‘seriously impair poverty reduction and socio-economic development [or] sustainable development,’ considering these criteria not objective enough for the document. Specifically, Brazil cited the lack of a definition of ‘excessive accumulation of conventional weapons stockpiles’ and the lack of a methodology for determining arms transfer’s impact on development and economic growth. The criterion of possibly ‘contribut[ing] to a pattern of persistent corruption in the recipient state’ was too vague for Brazil’s support as well. Thus Brazil advocated for the deletion of the corruption criterion as well as the development criterion, and the amendment of the stability-related criterion to remove references to stockpiles. Brazil desired more clarity in references to International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, ‘crimes of international law,’ and ‘acts of terror.’ Brazil insisted that possible recipient states be able to answer to possible accusations that, if true, would cause the transfer to be prevented.

Uganda reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing a strong and robust Arms Trade Treaty. Uganda believed that the Arms Trade Treaty should focus on achieving international peace, security and development as its primary goals. Uganda said the treaty should be anchored in the UN Charter, International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Uganda wanted the treaty to reaffirm the rights of importers and the responsibilities of exporters. The goals of the treaty, in Uganda’s view, must include the regulation of small arms and light weapons, along with ammunition, and ensuring that there is no diversion of these or any other regulated weapons into illicit channels. Noting that Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, have suffered due to conflicts begun or perpetuated by small arms and light weapons, Uganda highlighted the negative impacts on stability as well as development in addition to lives lost due to the arms trade.

Liechtenstein supported an ATT that ‘covers the whole range of conventional weapons, as well as their components. This includes Small Arms, Light Weapons and ammunition for all conventional weapons.’ Liechtenstein also supported an expansive scope with regards to activities, which would include brokering, technology transfer, and technical assistance also. Calling the criteria ‘the legal and moral cornerstone of the treaty,’ Liechtenstein began to outline their views on the treaty’s parameters. Liechtenstein called for states party to the treaty to bear a responsibility to prohibit transfers to states that violate International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law: ‘Compliance with IHL and Human Rights must therefore be included as a criterion to assess arms transactions.’ While Liechtenstein looked forward to a treaty adopted with universal support, that was by necessity a compromise, they also noted that no delegation would have a veto. Instead, Liechtenstein called for a ‘genuine political consensus’ to be made under the leadership of the Chairman.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso noted its agreement with the Nigerian statement on behalf of the African Group, adding to it in a national capacity. Regarding scope, Burkina Faso supports the 7+1+1 formula, along with hunting and sporting rifles. On the topic of criteria and parameters, Burkina Faso believed that in order to have the impact, all of the criteria must be strong enough to require states to deny transfers if any of the criteria were not met. Burkina Faso reiterated the ECOWAS position that arms transfers must be in line with states’ existing international commitments, including to the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, and other international legally-binding instruments the state is a party to. The impact of the transfer upon international and regional stability and security, as well as upon social and economic development, was also necessities for inclusion to Burkina Faso. The risk of starting or perpetuating conflict, of terrorist acts, and of diversion to illicit markets or end-users was also a key criterion suggested by Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso also supported as criteria the risk that weapons would be used for gross violations of International Humanitarian Law or International Human Rights Law.

Antigua and Barbuda (CARICOM)
Antigua and Barbuda took the floor on behalf of the Caribbean Community. CARICOM believed that a balance must be struck between the right of states to acquire arms and the need to ensure that arms are ‘not used for unjust ends.’ The delegation of Antigua and Barbuda highlighted the need for criteria to operate within the context of international law and existing agreements. CARICOM believed strongly in ‘the link between development, armed crime and security concerns.’ CARICOM urged the consideration by states of the adverse effects upon regional, sub-regional and international security prior to arms transfer authorization, as well as the impact upon compliance with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Noting that the Caribbean was a region that did not produce, import or export weapons, but that diversion was a constant risk and problem there, CARICOM endorsed the inclusion of diversion as a criterion in the non-paper. ‘Consideration of the proliferation record of the proposed recipient state’ was a criterion CARICOM wished to add as well. CARICOM also supported supplying a list of possible sources of information to be used by evaluating states in their assessments. CARICOM supported the creation of an independent Secretariat for support of states in the state’s implementation of the treaty.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, though subscribing fully to the European Union’s earlier statement, spoke in a national capacity to add to the EU position. The UK highlighted its existing national risk assessment process, which they noted was very comprehensive. The United Kingdom believed that the phrases ‘consideration’ and ‘as needed’ should be removed, to ensure that all criteria were applied. The UK supported the wording ‘shall not authorize’ transfers if ‘a substantial risk’ was found that the transfer would negatively affect international human rights law, International Humanitarian Law, international peace and security (including armed conflicts), poverty reduction or socio-economic development programs, or sustainable development. The United Kingdom also ‘welcomed’ the criterion on corruption, which was contained in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] as a standalone criterion for denial of a transfer.

Rwanda considered the UN Register on Conventional Weapons as a starting point for the treaty’s scope. However, Rwanda also supported the inclusion of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the ammunition of these as well. Thus, Rwanda supported the 7+1+1 formula. The Rwandan delegation supported a case-by-case analysis of possible transfers based on whether arms were used for serious violations of International Human Rights or Humanitarian Law and also upon risk of diversion or re-export.

Ecuador believed that the treaty must be legally binding and contain transparency-promoting measures to help combat the illicit trade in conventional weapons. Ecuador called for the treaty to explicitly ban transfers to non-state actors and to reaffirm the responsibility for approval of any import or export rested upon the state. Ecuador insisted that criteria within the treaty must be consistently applied. Ecuador suggested that text be added to prevent export of arms to countries that were already in violation of the treaty or which had already violated the sovereignty of another state. Ecuador was concerned that application of some of the text in the non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version] would be able to be applied by states unequally, and thus promoted the deletion of the entire section B of the Criteria non-paper. However, they promoted the inclusion of the section referring to provoking instability and undermining peace and security in another section as a standalone criterion. Ecuador also desired that the criterion only refer to international instability and conflict, removing the references to ‘internal, regional and sub-regional’ issues. Ecuador called for the text on human rights law and international humanitarian law to be retained in the following paragraph. Ecuador called for the complete removal of the parameter related to socio-economic development, poverty reduction and sustainable development, calling it the ‘most subjective requirement’ in the paper. Ecuador also called for the deletion of the parameter related to a ‘persistent corruption,’ calling this a ‘further element of subjectivity.’ Ecuador also desired a change to the text related to sources of information to be used in the decision-making processes of states, stating that any NGOs referenced as sources should have consultative status with ECOSOC in order to be consulted by states making decisions on specific transfers.

Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea believed that the UN Register’s categories, as well as Small Arms and Light Weapons and ammunition, constituted ‘a very good basis’ for the scope and supported it. The ROK also supported the list of activities under the Chairman’s non-paper on Scope [February 2011 version]. With regards to criteria, the ROK endorsed a re-examination of criteria by basing the ATT’s guidelines off of what a majority of states domestically required already. The ROK did not go into greater detail as to what this would yield as the parameters for the ATT.

China noted that the list of criteria was an ‘important reference’ for the sovereign decisions of states on transfer. China did not support requiring states to follow regional or sub-regional embargoes because it would universalize the impact of a sub-regional embargo. China also supported the deletion of references to states following existing commitments and treaties they are party to, on the grounds that the requirements were too vague. China stated that they supported ‘the logic behind’ the parameters related to international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Citing the fact that these were ‘political issues’ and the difficulty to make a fair judgment, China supported adding the phrase ‘to which it is a party,’ in order to limit the requirement of states to follow international human rights and humanitarian law solely to those documents which they have ratified. China opposed the inclusion of a parameter on poverty reduction, socio-economic development, and sustainable development because it was not the direct purpose of the treaty. A similar argument was employed by the Chinese delegate to argue for the removal of the parameter on corruption. China endorsed adding two additional criteria: first, that exports that supported a country’s ability to defend itself should be allowed, and secondly, an explicit ban on transfers to non-state actors.

Cote d’Ivoire
Cote d’Ivoire noted the risks of unregulated arms and the effects of unregulated trade in conventional arms on the African Continent and on their region in particular. The Ivoirian delegate also noted the results of the unregulated arms trade as exacerbated in the wake of the contested election and ensuing violence currently occurring in Cote d’Ivoire. Cote d’Ivoire also noted a specific shipment that had come in with arms for one party in the conflict from Belarus. Cote d’Ivoire called for ‘binding criteria regarding the full array of conventional weapons.’ Cote d’Ivoire called for criteria referencing the risks that transfers will undermine international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and socio-economic development. Cote d’Ivoire called for the risk assessment to be undertaken by a committee including governmental authorities, parliamentary committees, and ‘competent ministries,’ with its findings made public.

Norway began by noting its agreement with the United Kingdom’s comments on the criteria, in which the UK said that ‘as appropriate’ should be stricken since the criteria should be applied. Norway supported the concept of mandated criteria that applications for export would be required to meet for application approval. Norway supported a denial of any export that would assist in violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as well as genocide or crimes against humanity. Norway supported a similar rejection of possible transfers that would fuel conflict or instability, or to undermine socio-economic development. Risk of diversion of arms or ammunition was another criterion Norway wished to have mandated. Norway also called for exporters to evaluate the capacities of the possible recipient to control the shipment, including the risk of corruption.

Switzerland stated that the Chairman’s non-paper on parameters [February 2011 version] reflected their interests already, but added comments related to the specific wording. Switzerland added its support to Norway and the United Kingdom, arguing also that the ‘as appropriate’ and ‘should’ needed changing to simply require states to implement the criteria listed. Switzerland also argued that the criterion regarding a state’s international commitments should be moved to the goals and principles area of the text. Arguing that the use of the term ‘and’ required a possible transfer to violate both international human rights law and international humanitarian law to be prevented, Switzerland stated that a violation of either was sufficient to warrant denial of the transfer, and that ‘and’ should be changed to ‘or’. Switzerland supported the inclusion as a criterion of the impact of the transfer upon socio-economic development, poverty reduction and sustainable development, with minor issues regarding wording of the text. Finally, Switzerland appreciated the inclusion of corruption, calling for a direct link to be established between corruption and the arms transfer through the use of this criterion.

Sweden supported the Chairman’s non-papers [February 2011 version] with regards to scope and criteria. Sweden also subscribed to the Hungarian comments on behalf of the European Union. However, Sweden wished to add one additional comment regarding the criteria: that these criteria applied to exporters and re-exporters specifically. Noting that numerous delegations had spoken about the risks and dangers of unregulated trade, Sweden argued that transit countries and importers had a role to play in the solution to the problem as well. Sweden encouraged the PrepCom to look at other obligations, as well as selected obligations from this criteria non-paper, to apply to importers and transit countries as well.

The Japanese delegation supported the list of criteria expressed in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version]. Japan focused its comments upon the method of implementation of the criteria. Japan argued for a consistent and clear definition of whether criteria would be required or merely considered. Japan also noted that states can develop ‘indicators’ to help measure criteria when conducting risk assessments. Japan also believed that states must justify their decisions to approve or deny possible transfers publicly to ensure accountability.

Singapore supported the inclusion of criteria based upon their support by consensus, and applied this principle to all measures within the treaty, including the scope as well. Regarding scope, Singapore supported the 7+1 formula, including the UN Register of Conventional Arms’ categories and Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).

The Egyptian delegate proposed the application of the criteria mentioned in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] upon both exporting and importing states. Egypt argued that there was no incentive for importing states to ratify the treaty, as the criteria as currently written would be used by exporting states to evaluate importing states and their conduct. The Egyptian delegate also expressed concern that the criteria would be applied subjectively by states without guidance. Egypt argued for a strict application clause in the criteria non-paper that would apply to both exporters and importers equally, as well as to transit states. Egypt also rejected the inclusion of references to regional and sub-regional embargoes. Egypt also argued for limitation of the ‘international obligations or commitments’ criterion to treaty-based obligations of participating states. Egypt argued that the decisions to implement other criteria should not be made by states but rather by either an ATT policy-making body or relevant United Nations bodies. Egypt opposed the inclusion of references to conventional weapons stockpiles in the list of criteria. Egypt believed that the criteria related to international humanitarian law, and international human rights law, and to poverty reduction, socio-economic development, and sustainable development were ‘too subjective … both points ought to be deleted.’ Egypt also expressed concern regarding the criteria related to ‘consideration of the illegal use of transferred arms,’ and advocated for the entire section to be removed, including the criteria related to diversion, transnational organized crime, other international crimes, terrorist acts and corruption. Egypt argued that the parts of this section worth keeping were referenced in other criteria, specifically the portions related to the maintenance of international peace and security and prevention of armed conflict. Egypt opposed the inclusion under the list of reliable sources of regional and sub-regional organizations, other States, and non-governmental organizations, supporting only the inclusion of ‘a state party’s own authorities and agencies’, and ‘competent bodies of the United Nations.’ Finally, Egypt also argued that states party should be obligated to conduct the arms transfer in the event that all criteria are met, ‘under favorable conditions [and] without delay’.

The Netherlands agreed with previous statements by the Norway, UK and Switzerland that states must apply the criteria. The Netherlands insisted that application of criteria in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] must be related to specific transfers under assessment, citing a possible example of states examining other states’ record on sustainable development rather than the possibility that a specific transfer would inhibit sustainable development. The Netherlands supported having specific criteria within the treaty for importing states, but did not think any currently-included criteria could be so applied. The Netherlands was adamant that the treaty should in no way obligate states to become suppliers of conventional arms. Specifically, the Netherlands opposed the requirement of states to approve transfers should all criteria be met.

Russian Federation
Russia argued that resolution 64/48 of the General Assembly tasked this PrepCom with developing elements of a possible Arms Trade Treaty, and that doing so would require universal application of universally-accepted criteria. As a result, Russia supported only the inclusion of criteria which was non-political and non-discriminatory. Russia expressed its opinion that the current criteria within the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] were too subjective and thus did not meet these standards. Russia also objected to the ambiguous language used in phrases such as ‘substantial risk’. Finally, Russia rejected the inclusion of regional or sub-regional embargoes as criteria upon which to deny a transfer.

Australia expressed its support for the structure of the Chairman’s non-paper on criteria [February 2011 version], with some criteria required for approval of a transfer and other criteria to be taken into account by states conducting the evaluation. Australia gave brief comments upon the ordering of items, and then noted its opposition to universalizing regional or sub-regional commitments; Australia called for a removal of the language related to complying with regional and sub-regional embargoes to remedy this problem.

Canada added its voice to the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, arguing that the ‘as appropriate’ text was too weak to make the criteria legally binding. Thus, Canada supported removing that text in an effort to clearly define the criteria as legally binding. Canada stated its belief that ‘not all criteria are created equal,’ arguing that the criteria related to socio-economic development, sustainable development, poverty reduction and corruption were not worthy of the high standard of automatic denial, should they not be met. However, Canada also argued that these parameters should not be deleted entirely, but rather defined as criteria to be ‘taken into account.’ Canada also supported changing the requirement of states to take into account information from the listed sources to a suggestion or option.

Indonesia (NAM)
Indonesia opposed the application of regional and sub-regional embargoes as parameters within the Arms Trade Treaty, supporting only Security Council embargoes’ inclusion. Indonesia also expressed its ‘difficulties in accepting’ the criterion related to development, arguing that other international efforts should deal with this topic, and not the ATT.

Belize supported the inclusion of criteria related to a transfer’s possible effects on international peace, security and stability, stockpiling of weapons, and risk of use to violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Belize also supported criteria that would prevent diversion of conventional arms and ban transfers that created a substantial risk of fuelling organized crime. Belize also desired to include the proliferation record of the potential receiver in the risk assessment by the potential exporter.

Mexico argued for a list of criteria that was not exclusive to exporters, but also to have criteria that related to the ‘dialogue’ between importers and exporters. Mexico also argued for the separation of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights law in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] on the grounds that either alone should be sufficient to deny a transfer.

Belarus spoke as a right of reply to the comments of Cote d’Ivoire earlier in the day, where Cote d’Ivoire mentioned an arms transfer in violation of an arms embargo on Cote d’Ivoire, originating from Belarus. Belarus devoted their time to rebutting this assertion, arguing it has never made any transfers of arms to Cote d’Ivoire since the embargo first entered into effect.

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