ATT 2nd PrepCom Summaries: March 3, 2011 (AM Session)

April 13 2011, 10:19 AM by sameerkanal

This post is the seventh 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

Thursday, 3/3/2011, Morning Session

United States
The United States thanked the Chairman for the release of his non-papers [March 2011 version]. The United States noted that thus far, obligations under the treaty had focused primarily upon exporters, but that importers bore responsibilities as well. Diversion into illicit markets, the US noted, occurs on the watch of the importing state. Consequently, the US called for improving recipient countries’ ‘national implementation and control processes’ via the treaty. Noting the wide variety of provisions advocated by states for inclusion in the treaty, the USA expressed its agreement with the inclusion of SALW in the treaty’s scope, and that SALW as well as the UN Register’s categories required additional reporting requirements to those of the register. But since the USA viewed the treaty as complementary to the Programme of Action on SALW, and not a replacement for it, they also argued that the treaty ‘must also include the full range of conventional weapons.’ The United States informed the PrepCom that they remained in opposition to the inclusion of Ammunition in the scope of the treaty. The United States asserted that ‘controls on large shipments of ammunition […] do not provide useful constraints on its availability to criminal or terrorist or genocidal elements in the world.’ More small-scale, tailored approaches, the US argued, would place too large a burden on states party in terms of implementation. The US stated that the goal of preventing illicit activities was redundant, as by definition the activities were already against legal documents such as treaties, and thus argued for a focus on regulation of legal transfer of arms. The United States also supported a limited number of topics for inclusion in the treaty, to avoid ‘the better [being] the enemy of the good.’

Mexico called for the inclusion in the Chairman’s non-paper on objectives [March 2011 version] of the prevention of diversion of arms. Regarding scope, Mexico supported the inclusion of military explosives in the list of regulated items, noting that the cluster grenades that enter Mexico as a part of transnational organized crime would not be regulated under the current version of the non-papers’ text. Noting that of the options of a definition of weapons or of a list, the Chairman’s non-paper reflected the list option, Mexico questioned if the list would still require definitions, noting that they were unsure if software was covered by ‘technology’ in the list of regulated items, and also if electro-magnetic arms were regulated. Regarding activities, Mexico called for a definition to be clarified as to whether the term ‘transfer’ referred to title transfer or control transfer. Regarding criteria, Mexico supported the inclusion of parameters related to international humanitarian law and international human rights law, but wanted the wording change to reflect ‘systematic’ rather than ‘serious’ violations of these laws.

Japan supported the scope portion of the Chairman’s non-paper [March 2011 version], with the caveat that they wanted to ensure that sporting and hunting rifles were excluded. Japan also supported the inclusion of munitions and ammunitions under a single category. Related to transactions, Japan supported a definition of regulated transfer that encompassed ‘physical movement of equipment into or from national territory’ or across a border.

Hungary, who spoke on behalf of the European Union, supported the process by which the Chairman had drafted the non-papers [March 2011 version] but made no specific comments on the paper, opting instead to review it in more depth and make more comments later.

Iran called for the ATT to include sections including: a preamble; definitions; objectives; principles; scope; criteria; cooperation and assistance; implementation and follow-up; and a final section ‘to address issues such as signing, ratification and entry into force, reservations and withdrawal, depository,’ and so on. Iran offered as the treaty’s primary objective ‘to promote coordination among the states [party] to prevent and combat the illicit trade in conventional arms.’ Iran reaffirmed the centrality to its country and to developing countries of the section on principles. Other principles Iran advocated for included sovereignty, compliance with the UN Charter, non-interference in the affairs of other states, and non-intervention in civilian activities including technology and equipment transfer. With regards to scope, the Iranian delegation agreed ‘only with the inclusion of the Register of Conventional Arms, except missiles,’ and additionally the inclusion of ‘modern conventional arms such as electro-magnetic weapons.’ Iran supported ‘only the inclusion of import and export in the treaty,’ though they expressed flexibility on the possible inclusion of transit. Iran also advocated for the treaty including ‘gradual reduction of all arms production by major arms producing countries.’ Iran supported amendments to the treaty requiring consensus, and ratification of 100 countries including the fifteen major arms exporting states as a requirement for entry into force. Iran also called for the explicit right to reservation and withdrawal. Iran supported the creation of an ‘ATT Review Conference’ every five years, with a final document adopted by consensus, and the creation of a committee to ‘examine all cases of arms and technology transfers which have been denied, and the decision over such a case has not been solved at the bilateral level.’

Pakistan believed that the work of the ATT PrepCom was promoting the ‘central purpose of the UN Charter.’ While supporting the regulation of the arms trade, Pakistan also supported the inclusion as a goal of ‘an arms control perspective.’ Pakistan supported the inclusion in the principles section of the treaty of references to the positive impact of conventional arms regulation on maintenance of security; the ‘need for balanced reduction of armed forces;’ and the responsibility of powerful states to reduce their arms and arsenals. Regarding criteria, Pakistan wished to add to the section regarding armed conflict a ban on transfers that would ‘introduce destabilizing military capability’ or ‘disregard the balance of force’ in the region.

Ecuador called for increased clarity on criteria. With regards to the criterion development, Ecuador called it a ‘place of concern’ because they did not know what authority would decide if an arms transfer would ‘impair the socio-economic development of a country.’ Ecuador also called for the inclusion of a ‘prohibition of sales to states that use or threaten the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,’ a parameter Ecuador called ‘objective’ because of its basis in the UN Charter.

Cuba supported a narrower ATT than what the Chairman’s non-paper [March 2011 version] would create, and ‘regretted’ that the ‘process appears to continue to favor an approach that is excessively ambitious in scope.’ Cuba’s goal for an ATT’s purpose was ‘the aim of strengthening prevention mechanisms used to combat illicit trafficking in conventional weapons.’ Cuba supported the section on principles as a whole. Regarding scope, Cuba objected to the inclusion of technology and equipment in the regulated items. Noting the lack of time to review the paper, Cuba concluded by stating that they opposed the inclusion of sources of information for decision-making in the treaty itself, and was ‘surprised’ to note a continued absence of an explicit ban on transfers to non-state actors.

Switzerland supported Mexico on the definition of a transfer, with either title transfer, control transfer or both being sufficient to meet this definition. Additionally, Switzerland questioned if hand grenades were included in the scope as defined in the Chairman’s non-paper [March 2011 version], following the removal of the explosives category.

Sweden supported the simplification of the list of criteria in the Chairman’s non-paper [March 2011 version]. With regards to scope, the Swedish delegation believed explosives would be covered under munitions, but supported their inclusion under ‘missiles’ or ‘missile systems.’ Sweden supported the adaptation of the text on corruption which called for corruption to be ‘taken into account.’ The portions of corruption that did not deal with diversion, Sweden supported as items for inclusion in the implementation section of the treaty.

Australia reaffirmed the international mandate for the ATT negotiation process established by General Assembly Resolution 64/48. In Australia’s view, ‘this treaty is not merely a product or a process, but a reflection of states’ desire for a more secure world.’ Australia supported the inclusion of criteria related to armed violence, as well as to safety and security, and also the parameter on sustainable social and economic development.

Norway supported the list of regulated items under scope, in particular the inclusion of ammunition that could be used by any of the regulated weapons on the list. Norway’s one proposed revision was to include once more the category of military explosives, highlighting their agreement with Mexico and Sweden in this regard. Norway made a few comments with regards to specific wording questions. Finally, Norway argued that ‘all states have obligations to persons with disabilities within their own jurisdiction,’ and thus that the text on victim assistance should not refer to states ‘in a position to do so’ assisting, but all states should assist their own people.

Nigeria, speaking in a national capacity, referred frequently to the need to work for consensus and common ground. Nigeria endorsed the proposal of Trinidad and Tobago to establish a dedicated Secretariat that would assist governments in overcoming ‘the enormity of the challenges’ they face in implementation. Nigeria also supported the wording of the text on corruption, which called for it to be ‘taken into account.’

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom focused its comments on the need for proposals to begin being more fleshed out in terms of specific practice. Specifically, the UK asked ‘those proposing the inclusion of more contentious issues […] to try and help us in putting forward more detailed ideas of how such ideas might work in practice.’ The United Kingdom believed that there was sufficient time to propose such concepts and then have other states reflect upon them before the July 2012 negotiations.

Uruguay echoed the sentiments of delegations who over the course of the PrepCom process had noted the responsibility of arms producers for arms transfer. Uruguay believed that this special, additional responsibility should be referenced explicitly in the principles section of the agreement. Uruguay called for a provision under the Scope section to refer to the ‘future development of conventional arms’ to avoid the treaty becoming obsolete. Uruguay also called for the inclusion under activities of abandonment of arms, especially after peacekeeping missions. Uruguay highlighted, as a Troop-Contributing Country themselves, the risk to countries that could be posed by abandoned arms as peacekeepers leave the area, and thus justified their call for the abandonment of arms to be regulated.

New Zealand
New Zealand noted that, currently, the principles section of the treaty focused inordinately upon territorial integrity, and that the section should be balanced in terms of priorities of different concepts. New Zealand noted minor wording issues and questions, and agreed with Mexico regarding the transfer being regulated either at control transfer or at title transfer. Finally, New Zealand categorically disagreed with Iran’s threshold of 100 countries to have the treaty enter into force, calling it a ‘farcical situation’ should this threshold be adopted due to the high number of required states for entry into force.

Poland aligned itself with the European Union, but added to it that technology transfer and manufacture should be considered part of the trade in conventional arms and thus regulated. Poland also supported the regulation of research and development. Finally, Poland argued that technology transfer should be included within the definition of transfer itself ‘for the sake of comprehensiveness.’

Germany agreed with Japan that both physical and title transfers are regulated, and only one is necessary. Because title was irrelevant to the German delegation, they supported regulation of the transfer at the point of physical control being changed. Germany also pointed out that any state may end up being an importer or an exporter in a given transaction, and so states should not be viewed as long-term exporters or importers only.

Argentina highlighted the ‘common need’ of states across the world to address the ‘abusive use of weapons,’ and thus the need for a ‘universal, transparent and non-discriminatory manner’ of addressing these concerns. Argentina agreed with other states that supported the inclusion of diversion in the treaty. Argentina also endorsed the concept of a follow-up mechanism such as five-yearly review conferences, ‘to ensure period review and stocktaking’ of the progress towards the goals of the treaty, ‘as well as ensuring alignment with common principles taking into account […] new threats which had not been previously considered during elaboration of this instrument.’

France aligned itself with the European Union, adding to their statement in a national capacity. France stated that it needed more time to determine its position on transparency mechanisms, and also to receive more clarity on definitions used within the non-papers [Chairman’s March 2011 version]. Calling International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Economic and Social Rights ‘important considerations,’ France supported their inclusion in the ATT, as well as the inclusion of prevention of transfers that would contribute to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. France called for the strengthening of the corruption clause as well. Finally, France stated that they were ‘not convinced’ that victim assistance should be included in the ATT.

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