Better reporting, no more no less

July 13 2011, 7:09 AM by Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will

Of the several topics under consideration this week, reporting
mechanisms have gained a lot of attention. This is particularly true
for statements from states from the global south, even though most of
them are supportive of a strong treaty designed to be meaningful for
people’s security. These states declared in different terms that they
might not be willing to engage in “impossible”, time-consuming reports
on every single transaction involving the weapons and ammunition that
may be covered by the an ATT. States indicate that the information
requested is far too demanding, and in some cases, ineffective or
unused.

by Cesar Marin, International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

The argument is valid. It is understandable that some states fear that
they will have to comply with challenging and seemingly “impossible”
requirements that an ATT may present.

However, better reporting, the kind that a strong and effective ATT
would require, should not be that difficult. It can and should be
based on simple, reliable, ongoing methods, based on modern
technology. Basic information on the actors involved, the items being
transferred and the tracking and verification of its transportation
has been shared publicly for years. Such systems only require ways to
become operational considering the new criteria that the Arms Trade
Treaty will contain.

For such a successful mechanism to be in place, in cases where a
mechanism is yet to be built, states should request support to perfect
the way they currently report on arms transfers and build upon best
practices and the experiences of others.

Of course, this is the kind of task where a genuinely independent and
well-structured Implementation Support Unit would be very handy for
all.

Reporting is essential for the life of such a treaty. It will not only
confirm the willingness of states to apply the provisions of an ATT,
increase transparency and the confidence of all actors involved, but
also help to assess the level of effectiveness of the ATT.

The focus on better reporting mechanisms should be strengthened and
oriented to increase the effective implementation of the ATT, its
legitimacy over time, and its capability to address threats posed by
the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and ammunition.

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