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

April 8 2011, 12:03 AM by sameerkanal

This post is the fourth 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, Afternoon Session

Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago agreed fully with the CARICOM statement given by Antigua & Barbuda earlier in the day. Trinidad and Tobago believed that the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] contained valid items for inclusion in the future ATT. Trinidad and Tobago agreed with the section related to international obligations of the state, requiring states to deny transfers that would violate the UN Charter or treaties to which they are a party. Trinidad and Tobago also commended the Chair on their inclusion of regional and sub-regional stability as items to be evaluated when assessing the risk of transfers’ effects upon international peace and security. Trinidad & Tobago also thanked the Chairman for including in the non-paper the need to deny transfers that would aid in violations of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. While Trinidad & Tobago supported the link between arms transfer and effects upon poverty reduction and socio-economic development efforts, they also expressed concern that the impact of such a criterion could include violation of the rights of states to acquire weapons ‘for legitimate security concerns.’ As a result, the delegation advocated for a re-examination of the language related to this parameter. Trinidad & Tobago also expressed concern about the parameter related to corruption, specifically with regard to the definition of ‘a pattern of persistent corruption,’ as of yet undetermined.

Nigeria (African Group)
Nigeria noted the numerous examples of African states and regional organizations addressing or recognizing the risks of unregulated proliferation of conventional arms, as well as of their efforts to curtail the illicit trade in conventional arms. Highlighting the incredible loss of life in Africa, including those of women, children and the aged, as well as the effects upon socio-economic development, Nigeria called for increased regulation of conventional arms, especially Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), through the ATT. Nigeria reaffirmed its previous statements related to the need to include Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as ammunition, in the treaty’s scope. Nigeria also reaffirmed its prior calls for the inclusion of technical assistance, victim assistance, and respect for International Humanitarian Law. Nigeria also stated that the PrepCom should ensure that ‘issues of socio-economic development of states are adequately addressed.’ With regards to the non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version], Nigeria supported the use of the ECOWAS conventions as models for the ATT. Arguing that the rationale for the ATT has been proven, Nigeria called for states to move beyond justifying it or arguing against it, and move towards determining the provisions within the document.

Austria supported the statement of Hungary regarding the EU position on parameters. Adding to that in a national capacity, Austria asserted that the statement on how parameters would be utilized should be strengthened as indicated by numerous states earlier in the day by changing ‘should apply’ to ‘shall apply’ and removing ‘as appropriate.’ Austria ‘attached particular importance’ to the inclusion of parameters related to international humanitarian law and to human rights. Calling corruption an ‘essential element,’ Austria supported its inclusion within the treaty as a stand-alone parameter. Austria supported the adaptation of the text to allow states to ‘duly take into account’ whether or not the transfer would affect corruption, both on a long-term basis and regarding single cases of corruption.

Cuba stated that its support for an eventual treaty, including its position on the parameters, would depend on other areas of the document as well, since in their belief scope, parameters and implementation were all linked components of the document. Regarding the text of the non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version], Cuba opposed having the treaty repeat obligations that exist outside of the treaty, such as obligations of states to adhere to measures taken by the Security Council. Cuba opposed all three criteria in the next section, related to international peace, security and stability; international humanitarian law and international human rights law; and poverty reduction, socio-economic development, and sustainable development. Cuba opposed these criteria on the grounds that they were not objective, predictable or clear enough, as well as their opinion that they could be manipulated for political ends. Cuba questioned the criteria, as well, on the grounds that it was yet undetermined who would evaluate if the criteria were met. Cuba also noted that measurement and metrics would be difficult to establish. Cuba also opposed the corruption criterion on the grounds that it was a ‘vague, ambiguous concept which is open to easy manipulation.’ Cuba supported the inclusion of a parameter banning transfer of weapons to non-state actors. With regards to the list of sources of information that might be used by states involved in a possible transfer, Cuba called for the removal of references to the United Nations, other IGOs, other states, and NGOs, calling the state’s own sources the ‘basis’ of information to be used in evaluation and assessment of a possible transfer.

Liberia supported the African Group’s statement on parameters, adding to it with these remarks in a national capacity. Liberia concentrated upon the inclusion of hunting and sporting weapons, believing that ‘the exclusion of these arms could create a loophole in the ATT.’ Liberia also supported including in the ATT provisions that would help address the problem of ‘illegitimate governments’ acquiring weapons used to cement their rule.

Spain aligned itself with the statements of the European Union on both scope and parameters. Thanking the Chairman for his non-paper [February 2011 version], Spain stated that it supported the inclusion of all of the elements in the parameters non-paper, and opposed their deletion. Spain specifically devoted their time to defending parameters related to ‘serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law’; ‘poverty reduction and socio-economic development’; and international crimes and crimes against humanity. Spain also called for a distinct definition of which criteria would mandate an automatic rejection, and which criteria would be taken into consideration as part of a risk assessment. Spain believed that the criteria related to international peace, security and stability; international humanitarian law and international human rights law; poverty reduction, socio-economic development and sustainable development; diversion, including to the illicit market; transnational organized crime; genocide, crimes against humanity and other international crimes; terrorism; and corruption could be placed into the category of the risk assessment, rather than that of the automatic denial. Spain also believed that it was a positive inclusion to mention that states should utilize information available to them in making the transfer, but that it was unnecessary to enumerate those sources. Finally, Spain supported the deletion of the phrase ‘as appropriate’ because they believed all criteria should be applied for consideration of all possible transfers.

Thailand advocated the use of regional approaches to combat the risks and negative effects of the unregulated arms trade. Thailand argued that in some cases human rights issues can be politicized, stating that ‘unless clear links between arms transfer and grave human rights violations are established, any rights to use human rights to prohibit arms transfers must not beallowed and have to be considered – for further consideration.’

Viet Nam
Viet Nam thanked the Chairman for his non-papers [February 2011 version]. With regards to the scope non-paper, Viet Nam found the goal of inclusion of nearly all conventional arms ‘too ambitious,’ specifically referring to ‘munitions, components and technologies.’ Viet Nam supported ‘a more manageable and implementable scope.’ Regarding the list of activities, Viet Nam opposed the inclusion of ‘research and development, finance and technological transfers.’ Without delving into specific criteria, Viet Nam stressed the importance of states’ retaining their right to procure arms for legitimate purposes, including security and defense, and opposed criteria that might restrict this right or be implemented in a discriminatory fashion.

Burundi subscribed fully to the statement of Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group. Burundi ‘unconditionally support[ed] the inclusion of the seven categories’ of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version]. Burundi also called for the inclusion of ARPCs (Small Arms and Light Weapons) and their munitions. With regards to the criteria, Burundi supported the inclusion of parameters related to the prevention of exacerbating tensions and conflicts, as well as those aimed at ensuring that arms transferred do not violate human rights or international humanitarian law. Burundi also supported criteria related to non-state actors and terrorist acts being prevented from obtaining arms, as well as those aimed at preventing arms from being used for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Finland also supported the universal application of all criteria to all transfers, and thus supported the removal of the phrase ‘as appropriate’ from the header of the criteria non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version]. Finland highlighted the parameters related to compliance with treaties, human rights and international humanitarian law, compliance with international obligations, and the risk of diversion as positive inclusions. Finland also supported the inclusion of corruption as a criterion for risk assessment. Finland believed that the assessment should be worded in a way to ensure that if one or more criteria are met, the transfer is denied.

Zimbabwe outlined its belief of what an ATT would accomplish – a world with controlled arms transfers that prevented arms from falling into the wrong hands, including those of non-state actors. Zimbabwe argued in favor of defining principles, goals and objectives prior to the establishment of scope and parameters. Zimbabwe supported the ‘unrestricted’ right of states to acquire conventional arms: ‘The proposed treaty should uphold the right of every democratic state to enjoy unrestricted right to arm themselves and engage in arms trade, conventional or otherwise, without unnecessary encumbrances being brought to bear upon them at the insistence of any other state, big or small.’ Zimbabwe also asserted that states should be the primary entities tasked with implementing the treaty.

United States
The United States stated that it approaches the criteria ‘somewhat flexibly,’ because they view the treaty as ‘a floor, not a ceiling’ in terms of restrictions upon arms transfers; the United States believed states party could add more criteria to their own risk assessment as they saw fit outside of the requirements of the treaty. However, the United States advocated that this ‘floor’ have real effects, so as not to provide political cover for problematic states in the arms trade. The United States viewed all parameters as criteria that states should take into account in making assessments on transfers. Agreeing with states who asserted that these criteria apply more to exporters, the United States stated that it ‘may be needed’ to add criteria for other activities to be included in the treaty; the United States considered both import and brokering to be among those other activities to be included. The United States supported the use of the phrase ‘as appropriate’ and ‘should apply,’ with regards to the header, to note that states should implement these criteria as they see fit. The United States stated that it recognized the value of ‘taking into consideration’ poverty reduction efforts, but found the language unclear, and also suspected that there would be conflict, should this be a criterion, between it and the right of states to arm themselves as indicated in the Charter’s Article 51. In addressing corruption, the United States described itself as ‘perplexed’ and was concerned the criterion could give states authority to make judgments over other states’ internal affairs. Finally, the United States opposed the inclusion altogether of the paragraph related to possible sources of information, since all transfers would be made by the states involved through their own means.

Beginning with the first section of the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version], the delegation of India proceeded to outline its opinions regarding criteria and parameters. India did not support the inclusion of regional and sub-regional embargoes as they did not find them to be of the same authority or universality as the United Nations Security Council’s decisions. India also opposed the use of the term ‘commitments,’ opting instead to support the requirement that states follow their ‘obligations’ alone. India advocated for the inclusion of a prohibition on transfers of arms to non-state actors in the criteria. While India supported criteria preventing transfers that would undermine peace and security, they wished it to be qualified to apply to international peace and security only. In the same paragraph, India found text related to regional, sub-regional and internal stability ‘problematic,’ and called for its removal. India called for the removal of the paragraph creating criteria related to poverty reduction, socio-economic development and sustainable development, because it would allow states to make judgments of the security needs and effects of transfers upon other states and deny arms to those other states as a result. India argued for the adaptation of the text related to the criterion on diversion. India believed that the text related to informational sources to be used by states in making their judgments should be simplified to avoid listing sources specifically, as they felt this would be ‘proscriptive.’

Jamaica fully subscribed to the speech of Antigua & Barbuda on criteria, speaking on behalf of CARICOM. With regards to the non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version], Jamaica supported the prevention of transfers that would violate Security Council actions, and was open to further consideration regarding a possible prevention of transfers that would violate regional or sub-regional arms embargoes. Jamaica supported the inclusion, with adapted wording, of the parameters preventing a transfer that would be used to violate international humanitarian law, international human rights law, or in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, or other international crimes, transnational organized crime, terrorism, or would undermine peace, security and stability. Jamaica supported an expansive definition of peace, security and stability which would include internal, regional and sub-regional levels as well as accumulation and stockpiling of arms. Jamaica agreed with Trinidad and Tobago’s comments related to the inclusion of corruption, which stated that it required increased consideration prior to a determination being made of whether or not to include it as a criterion in the future ATT, specifically related to the definition of ‘a persistent pattern of corruption.’ Jamaica called for a ‘succinct criteria’ in the treaty that would remove the need for ‘subjective criteria,’ including the sustainable development parameter, and would in their view retain self-defense decision-making in the hands of the state in question rather than exporting or producing states. Jamaica also supported increased conversation on how to prevent diversion, and while they strongly supported its prevention, Jamaica believed that it would be best addressed under implementation sections rather than criteria sections of the future ATT.

Suriname supported the CARICOM statement of Antigua & Barbuda on the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version], adding to this statement in their national capacity. Reaffirming CARICOM’s previous statements reaffirming the need for an ATT to avoid infringement upon national sovereignty and the rights of states to make their own decisions about defense and armament, Suriname stated its approval of specifically-defined instances in which transfers would be prohibited. Suriname supported criteria preventing transfers that would violate embargoes or the UN Charter, or that would violate international instruments binding the states in question. Transfers to non-governmental authorities in other states without the express approval of those other states’ governmental authorities should be prevented, Suriname argued, as they were already contrary to ‘principles of customary [international] law.’ Suriname opposed the criteria related to poverty reduction, socio-economic development, and sustainable development, as well as to corruption, as they found those issues to be ‘politically sensitive’ and might be subjectively or inconsistently applied.

Uruguay reaffirmed its support for direct inclusion of parameters mandating compliance with Security Council embargoes in the ATT. Looking at the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version], Uruguay supported the inclusion of the criterion on international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as related to peace, security and stability. Uruguay also supported the criteria preventing transfers if there was a substantial risk that the arms would be diverted to unauthorized end-users. Uruguay also called for a verification mechanism that would prove that national authorities had implemented the criteria correctly. Uruguay used environmental treaties as an example of a sphere in which treaties had been given strong verification regimes. Specifically, Uruguay called for prior consent of the importing country before transfers take place.

New Zealand
New Zealand expressed broad general support for the non-paper on criteria and parameters [Chairman’s February 2011 version]. New Zealand called for ‘use of licenses as proof of export authorization’ to be mandated within the future treaty. New Zealand also expressed approval of all of the criteria within the non-paper at present. While they supported the list of possible sources of information for use in transfer assessment, New Zealand asked for a specific and explicit reference to the fact that states would remain able to utilize additional sources to the enumerated list. New Zealand supported changing ‘should’ to ‘shall’ in the criterion related to international obligations or commitments, to ensure that states were mandated not to violate those obligations and commitments.

Mali highlighted the specific concerns of Africa with regards to the scope of the treaty. Noting that weapons of mass destruction had less of a destabilizing effect by far in Africa than did Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Mali reaffirmed its support for the inclusion of SALWs and ammunition in the scope of the treaty.

Algeria did not support regulation of the arms trade with regard to human rights or humanitarian law, though they noted their general support for other instruments related to both. Algeria stated that making these concepts criteria was ‘subjective’ and that there was ‘no point’ in establishing such points within the non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version]. Algeria expressed concern that the treaty having criteria implemented only by exporters would give exporters too much authority over the affairs of other states.

Arguing that scope, parameters, and principles were all closely linked, Pakistan began its comments by noting that they understood each would have an effect upon the others. Pakistan believed that import, export and transfer were insufficient activities for the treaty to regulate, and that ‘the entire chain of trade will have to be considered.’ Pakistan argued in favor of the treaty addressing what they called ‘the motives’ guiding production, sale, purchase and transfer of arms. Pakistan believed that objectives and principles needed to be resolved first, followed by scope and parameters of the future ATT. Pakistan supported inclusion of criteria only upon the basis of consensus, but did not note which criteria in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] would, in their belief, meet this threshold.

Belarus focused its comments on the need to prevent diversion of arms in a potential transfer to an unauthorized end-user. Belarus supported a scope comprising the 7+1 formula, encompassing the seven categories of the UN Register of Conventional Arms as well as Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Belarus also supported the inclusion of brokering in the list of regulated activities in the scope non-paper [Chairman’s February 2011 version].

Russian Federation
Russia stated that the criteria included in the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version] were less relevant than the measures taken to prevent diversion of conventional arms to non-state actors. Russia discussed its own mechanisms, including strong requirements of authorization by governmental authorities and strong criminal penalties for violation of law, to recommend specific actions for inclusion in the ATT. Additionally, the Russian Federation supported the inclusion of activities that represented a broader interpretation of ‘transfer,’ including production, stockpiling, abandonment and destruction.

Benin expressed its satisfaction with the Chairman’s non-papers [February 2011 version]. Benin supported the adaptation of the header text as previously suggested to make criteria more forceful. Benin supported a list of activities that included ‘export, import, brokering, transport, [and] trans-shipment’ as well. Benin supported strongly the inclusion of ammunition, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Benin supported increased examination of how best to support states in implementation of the treaty through the PrepCom process.

Argentina thanked the Chairman for his non-papers [February 2011 version], specifically for the way in which the criteria non-paper was structured, separating out automatic denial-related criteria from those pertaining to a risk assessment. Argentina agreed with Uruguay’s earlier statement that the responsibility for provision of victim assistance lay primarily with arms producers and that this should be recognized. The Argentine delegation supported the lists of criteria in the other sections in principle, but agreed with Egypt and China regarding the parameters pertaining to socio-economic development, poverty reduction and sustainable development, as well as corruption, that these were problematic and should thus be removed. Argentina also opposed the integration of regional and sub-regional requirements in any universal instrument such as the future ATT.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica called for the inclusion of Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as ammunition, in the scope of the treaty, calling the Programme of Action ‘insufficient, as it is voluntary in nature,’ for full regulation of SALW and ammunition. Costa Rica, addressing the Chairman’s non-paper on criteria [February 2011 version], supported the parameter requiring a denial of transfer when the transfer would pose a serious risk to violate international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as well as other international obligations. Costa Rica also supported the retention of the parameters related to sustainable development, poverty reduction, organized crime, armed violence and regional security, as well as diversion. Addressing previous speakers’ concerns about the possible discriminatory application of certain criteria, Costa Rica noted that the criteria were aimed at denying transfers when information from ‘credible and reliable’ sources indicated that the criterion was met. Costa Rica highlighted the differences between this approach and a ‘punitive approach’ of denying transfers based on a state’s record in the past. Costa Rica also strongly endorsed the inclusion of a parameter regarding corruption.

France noted that delegations split on the subject of the purpose of the treaty between one group that desired the treaty to combat the illicit trade in conventional arms, and another that wanted the treaty to focus on regulation of the licit trade. France expressed its hope that the future document could address both simultaneously. Specifically turning to the Chairman’s non-paper [February 2011 version], France believed that the criteria should each be strong enough that a transfer should be prevented if it was not met. France also opposed the prioritization of criteria, noting that ‘pride of place’ must be given to international humanitarian law, international human rights law and socio-economic development along with the other criteria. Additionally, France questioned if the way to address corruption was as a parameter or by specifically criminalizing it in another portion of the document.

Senegal noted that it had ‘no special difficulties’ with the Chairman’s non-paper on criteria [February 2011 version], merely wording adaptations. Senegal supported the principle that transfers should only be authorized if the arms would be used for ‘legitimate needs’ of self-defense and security in and by receiving states, or used for peacekeeping operations. Senegal supported parameters and criteria that would ‘ensure respect’ for Security Council embargoes, prohibition on the use of force or of interference in other states’ affairs, ‘the norms of international humanitarian law,’ and treaty obligations. Prevention of arms transfers that would assist in the commission of international crimes, the destabilization of a region or country, or impede sustainable development, also was supported by Senegal.

Syria wanted the treaty to reaffirm the right of states to acquire arms for self-defense, as well as the rights of people under occupation to fight for independence and self-determination. Syria insisted that any criteria in the paper be non-discriminatory and defined clearly. Noting that the non-paper on criteria [Chairman’s February 2011 version] only dealt with exporters thus far, Syria nonetheless offered its amendments. Syria opposed the universalization of regional and sub-regional rules on exports to states outside the region. Syria also opposed the parameter calling for states to follow its ‘other international obligations or commitments.’ Syria questioned the parameter related to ‘excessive accumulation of conventional weapons stockpiles,’ stating that there was no authority to determine what was needed and what was excessive for a state. Syria, expressing concern that the clause could be misinterpreted and misused, called for the removal of the clause on international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Syria opposed the parameter related to socio-economic development and poverty reduction, on the grounds that it would require a state to assess another state’s development and risks to it. Syria found the parameter on diversion ‘ambiguous’ but did not oppose it. Syria wished to add ‘crimes of aggression, war crimes, and siege’ to the parameter related to international crimes. Additionally, Syria opposed the parameter related to corruption because of its vagueness and the risk it would pose that one state would interfere in another state’s affairs through it. Finally, Syria called for increased study on the paragraph related to sources of information.

Iran found examination of criteria to be difficult due to the fact that they did not believe there were any commonly-agreed upon objectives for the treaty. Iran insisted that the criteria be objective, non-discriminatory, and clear, and retain the right of states to develop as they saw fit as well as to defend themselves. Iran advocated for the treaty to ban export and import to states that invade other countries. Iran also stated that the rights of importers must be taken into account in the drafting of the treaty. Iran expressed their support for the principles of international humanitarian law, but said that criteria on their basis ‘have to be avoided’ because of a lack of a common definition for related terms. Iran also opposed the reference to embargoes, because regional embargoes are not applicable globally and because of remaining questions about the legality of Security Council embargoes. Iran supported the denial of transfers to terrorists, but believed this would be better served by expression in the preamble of the treaty rather than in the parameters section.

Mexico strongly supported the inclusion of corruption as a criterion in the future Arms Trade Treaty, arguing that corruption in a recipient state is also partially dependent upon the exporters, brokers, etc. Consequently, Mexico wanted to expand the criterion to apply to brokers, exporters and the transfer itself.

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