Will the #ArmsTreaty Support or Supplant the PoA?

March 26 2012, 7:54 AM  by Øistein Thorsen

Small Arms Survey Research Note 15: 

The UN calendar for 2012 includes important markers in international arms control, with eight weeks of UN meetings assigned to two separate processes: the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). The fact that both processes include arms control measures has led some diplomats and members of the arms control community to speculate as to the relationship between the two and the future role of the PoA should an ATT be agreed.

During the UN Conference on the ATT, states will seek to ‘elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms’ (UNGA, 2009, para. 4). At the 2nd Review Conference, 11 years after adoption of the PoA, they will assess progress made in the implementation of the instrument (UNGA, 2008a, para. 14).

The fact that both processes include arms control measures has led some diplomats and members of the arms control community to speculate as to the relationship between the two and the future role of the PoA should an ATT be agreed. This paper explores and discusses the relationship between the processes, examining a prospective ATT’s relevance to and potential impact on the PoA. Specifically, it asks:

• How do the two processes relate to and complement each other?

• Where do they overlap and where are the synergies and links between them?

• Where do they potentially compete with or contradict one another?