|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
United Nations Conference
on the Arms Trade Treaty
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
Arms Trade Treaty Can Sow Seeds of Peace, Spark Hope of Overcoming Violence,
Conference Told as It Considers Scope, Elements, Potential of Future Text
World Can No Longer Wait for Regulation of Conventional Weapons Trade, Says
Speaker; Several Favour Inclusion of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Ammunition
An effective arms trade treaty was an “opportunity to sow the seeds of durable peace and spark hope among millions that violence and conflict can be overcome,” the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty heard today as it continued its month-long session in New York.
“The world can no longer wait for much-needed regulation of the trade of conventional weapons,” declared the representative of Costa Rica in a statement to the Conference, stalled for nearly two days over procedural matters when it began on Monday. “The linkages between the illicit trade in weapons, violence and stunted socio-economic growth are clear,” he said, adding that the international community had a moral obligation to address the devastating impact of irresponsibly and illicitly traded conventional arms, which produced the most killing and suffering, and fomented poverty, conflict and human rights violations.
Such a treaty should be a strong tool for preventing the irresponsible transfers that contributed to armed conflict and to violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, he said, reflecting the position expressed by many of the 39 speakers who took the floor today. It should not be used merely for procedural authorizations of arms transfers or for facilitating the conventional weapons trade. Moreover, an arms trade treaty that excluded small arms, light weapons and ammunition would fail to protect young people and fall short of addressing an “ominous” threat to peace, stability and development.
Similarly, the European Union’s delegate said the treaty had the potential to contribute to the improvement of the living and security conditions of hundreds of thousands of people around the world by ensuring that arms were traded responsibly. The treaty, therefore, should encompass all military conventional arms and systems, including small arms and light weapons, munitions, related technology, and parts and components since their transfers, if not properly regulated, might adversely affect international security and peace.
Only a treaty that met high standards would produce real outcomes for human security and development, said New Zealand’s representative. Referring to the four preparatory meetings that led up to the Conference and to the President’s text as providing excellent basis for the way forward, she said, “We are not starting without the wheel”.
The task at hand, she said, was not to regulate States’ internal matters. For example, the treaty would not affect the ability of gun owners to enjoy the recreational uses of their weapons. The task was to set the terms of the international arms trade while meeting the expectations of so many around the world that it would improve the chances for a better life.
In his contribution, the representative of Egypt said that ensuring the Conference’s successful conclusion depended on being faithful to its multilateral character and to its inclusive participation. All States must have an equal opportunity to voice concerns and to address them effectively. Additionally, all States should be on equal footing and there should be no room for double standards.
He said that an effective treaty must include guarantees against political abuse and should provide States with incentives to convince them to join a treaty which only exporting States were expected to implement. All efforts should be made to bring production and stockpiles in major producing States under international scrutiny, as international accountability was the only guarantee against abuse of the existing imbalance between major arms producers and the rest of the world. “The present proposal of a potential treaty disregards this important aspect,” he said. “It assumes a special status for major arms producers/exporters that allowed them to impose self-proclaimed restrictions.”
Several speakers stressed the need for the scope of the treaty to include ammunition. Arguing that position, the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that ammunition were the fuel of weapons-related violence. To be truly effective, therefore, the treaty must apply the same criteria to ammunition transfers that it did to weapons transfers, she said, explaining that there were already massive numbers of weapons in circulation, but that their impact depended on a constant supply of ammunition.
Similarly, Namibia’s representative said that since it was ammunition that made arms lethal, the treaty should be applicable to the full range of conventional arms and ammunition. Poor regulation of the global trade in arms and ammunition fuelled conflict, he said, urging an arms trade treaty to contribute to maintaining international peace and security.
Guyana was neither a manufacturer nor a significant importer of conventional arms, its representative said, but illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in particular had taken a toll on the society. In fact, small arms were responsible for 40 per cent of the crimes committed in his country. Taking into account the adverse effects of the illicit arms trade on the security and socioeconomic development of countries, in particular small developing States, the treaty should include small arms and light weapons as well as ammunitions.
Also addressing the Conference were the representatives of Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Kenya, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Liechtenstein, Brazil, Cuba, Malaysia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Canada, Israel, Chile, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Arab League), Turkey, Spain, Thailand, Mexico (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Latin America and Caribbean States), United States (on behalf of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council), United Kingdom, Myanmar (on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations), Yemen, Mexico, Netherlands, Greece and South Africa.
The representatives of Algeria, Iran, Syria, Democratic Republic of Korea, India, United Kingdom and Portugal made statements on procedural matters.
The Conference’s general exchange of views will continue at 10 a.m. on Friday, 6 July.
Delegates to the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty met today to resume their general exchange of views in continuation of their negotiations towards a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons. (For more background, see press releases DC/3361and DC/3362 of 3 July 2012.)
With more than 100 delegations requesting the floor, Conference President ROBERTO GARCIA MORITAN ( Argentina) encouraged representatives to begin the session with enthusiasm and brevity during the continuation of a general exchange of views.
GERALD THOMPSON, Director of Trinidad and Tobago’s Treaties, International Agreements and Legal Division, and speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said States must bury their differences and work towards the conclusion of a strong and legally binding treaty ending the unregulated international trade in conventional weapons. The illegal weapons trade had wreaked havoc on his region, which had become an area for the transit, transhipment or final destination of weapons diverted from the legal trade to fuel criminal activities, resulting in high levels of gun violence and forcing governments to divert scarce resources from poverty reduction and health programmes, in order to tackle the illicit trade in those weapons.
National legislation was not enough, he said. By concluding an effective treaty, the United Nations would be continuing in the multilateral tradition of formulating binding international rule to address problems that affected every region of the globe. For the treaty to achieve its goal, it must contain objective criteria for transfers and include clauses to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit transfer, production and brokering of conventional weapons. At a minimum, the treaty should regulate weapons on the United Nations Register, he said, emphasizing that “CARICOM cannot contemplate an ATT that excludes small arms and light weapons and ammunition. These are weapons of mass destruction in our region and the trade in them must be regulated.”
JOY OGWU ( Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the treaty should take full account of arms producers and arms-importing States. She hoped to build on the framework of the previous four preparatory conferences. The Group believed that the Conference could indeed produce a legally-binding international agreement.
The concept of a robust treaty emphasized that the world needed to put in place a system to regulate arms transfers. Highlighting the importance of existing mechanisms, she said an arms trade treaty must promote accountability and serve as an effective deterrent for the illicit arms trade, enhance regulation of the global arms market and assist in preventing regional instability fuelled by an unfettered access to weapons. Regional perspectives of an arms trade treaty in Africa were linked to experiences States had with the negative impacts of the illicit arms trade. Thus, assistance should be provided commensurate with the situations in affected developing countries.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the arms trade treaty had the potential to contribute to the improvement of the living and security conditions of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, by ensuring that arms were traded in the most responsible way. The treaty that the European Union wanted to agree on was one which set the highest common standards for the regulation of the international trade in arms and that enjoyed the support of all the relevant stakeholders. Compromise and flexibility would be needed but, in defending their respective positions, delegations should not lose sight of the ultimate objective that had been set for the Conference, which was that the legally binding instrument should be strong, robust and effective. The arms trade treaty should include in its scope all military conventional arms and systems, including small arms and light weapons, munitions, related technology, and parts and components. Transfers of all those items might adversely affect international security and peace, if not properly regulated.
The European Union had consistently maintained that the implementation of transfer controls in accordance with an arms trade treaty should be an individual responsibility of parties to the treaty, she went on. States parties should establish a legal and administrative system that would ensure they could exercise control over transfers of items covered by the scope of the treaty. They should also ensure that infractions of their national control systems were effectively prohibited and associated with sanctions. In addition, they should be responsible for the national decisions taken in application of the treaty. Also, it must take into account the specific responsibilities which some regional organizations had acquired, or could acquire in regulating arms transfers in several regions of the world. In that regard, the treaty needed to be open to signature by relevant regional and international organizations.
DAVID MUSILA, Assistant Minister of Defence of Kenya, expressed his country’s support for the proposed arms trade treaty. Kenya’s parliamentarians had constituted a large number of signatories to the documents supporting the action to control the trade in conventional weapons. His country and region had also suffered a lot of insecurity, due to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Kenya believed that arms transfers should remain under strict national control under the arms trade treaty and should be based on strict criteria. States parties should not authorize transfers where there was a substantial risk that such weapons could be used in the violation of human rights or for activities that undermined sustainable development objectives.
He proposed the establishment of an implementation support unit and said that any dispute that might arise in the implementation of the treaty should be settled by peaceful means. Although an arms trade treaty would not solve all the problems of the world, a robust treaty would be a very important step in reducing human suffering.
MAURICIO MONTALVO ( Ecuador) said there was a need to draw up a legally-binding agreement to prevent and combat unlawful arms trafficking. The treaty should also be a regulatory system, which should aim at enhancing transparency and attaining a broader scope to include all types of weapons and explosives. In order to be efficient, the treaty must also include small arms and light weapons.
Illicit weapons were causing a great number of deaths in his and other regions throughout the world, he said. To address that, the treaty must also include activities related to transfers, including transit and brokering. However, technology transfers or elements that hindered States in addressing security issues should not be a part of the treaty. Further, the treaty must not give rise to subjective and unstable application by export States. To guarantee the treaty’s universalization and entry into force, the number of required ratifications should be kept small, and he suggested that 60 States parties would suffice, as that reflected one-third of all United Nations Member States.
MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) said the treaty should fully respect the United Nations Charter, particularly respecting States’ right to self-defence. She said the criteria and parameters should, likewise, keep the Charter in mind and that any criteria that lacked clarity should be set aside.
Generalized objectives and norms should be adopted to ensure States’ national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Elements of the future treaty should be universally acceptable and help strengthen efforts to prevent and combat illicit arms trafficking. Controls and technical assistance to developing countries were among the issues that should be hammered out to create a strong treaty.
GEORGE TALBOT ( Guyana) said that illegal trafficking in conventional arms was a global menace and that each country faced considerable challenges in dealing with its varied effects. Guyana was neither a manufacturer nor a significant importer of conventional arms, but illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in particular had taken a toll on the society, especially as it related to human, social and economic development. Small arms had become weapons of choice by criminals and were responsible for 40 per cent of the crimes committed in his country. The Government was taking steps at the national, bilateral and regional levels to address the illicit arms trafficking.
Given the adverse effects of those challenges on the security and socioeconomic development of countries, in particular, small developing States, Guyana believed that an arms trade treaty should include small arms and light weapons as well as ammunition. In addition, it should include the seven categories of weapons covered under the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. A treaty without those categories of weapons would be inconceivable and unacceptable. The treaty’s scope must also encompass broad categories of equipment, including parts and components, as well as the types of transfers that were integral to the arms trade. It should also provide for the development of future technologies. For Guyana, and the Caribbean community as a whole, one of the instrument’s key objectives should be the prevention of the diversion of conventional arms to illicit markets. While advocating the effective regulation of the global arms trade, Guyana respected the right of States to manufacture and acquire weapons for self-defence and security. A substantive arms trade treaty must, therefore, take full account of that right as well as other fundamental principles such as political independence, sovereign equality and territorial integrity.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that the illegal arms trade affected many across the world. Its repercussions were severe and felt globally. Thus, it was time for a legally binding instrument to regulate the trade in conventional weapons. His country had been a firm supporter of the proposed treaty from the outset. Undeniably, the international arms trade must be addressed. A legally binding instrument would, therefore, constitute a crucial step in that process, provided that such it had the proper scope and contained the necessary guidelines. Such a treaty should cover all conventional arms and all types of relevant transfer activities.
He said that national systems must control all transfers falling under their jurisdiction. In that, it was crucial for national control authorities to exchange information and best practices. His country supported the objectives and parameters of the proposed treaty. It also proposed the prohibition of transfers to those under indicted by the International Criminal Court. In addition, any interpretations with regard to the treaty’s application should be addressed by the International Court of Justice.
EDUARDO ULIBARI ( Costa Rica) said the international community had a moral obligation to address the devastating impact of irresponsibly and illicitly traded conventional arms, which produced the most killing and suffering, and fomented poverty, conflict and human rights violations. The treaty must contain clear humanitarian language and must be comprehensive in its scope. An arms trade treaty that excluded small arms, light weapons and ammunitions would fail to protect young people. Moreover, it would fall short of addressing an “ominous” threat to peace, stability and development.
He said that an effective treaty must also regulate the vast array of actors and activities, as the international weapons trade had increasingly become characterized by transnational supply chains, which provided fertile ground for weapons to be diverted to the illicit market. A treaty should not be merely used for procedural authorizations of arms transfers or for facilitating the conventional weapons trade; it should be a strong tool for preventing irresponsible transfers that contributed to armed conflict, and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. “The linkages between the illicit trade in weapons, violence and stunted socio-economic growth are clear,” he said. “The world can no longer wait for much-needed regulations of the trade of conventional weapons. We have before us the opportunity to sow the seeds of durable peace and spark hope among millions that violence and conflict can be overcome,” he declared.
ANTONIO GUERREIRO, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the Conference on Disarmament, said the treaty must be universal but should not impose obstacles that might harass States’ legitimate aspirations to make use of technologies and goods to promote their own development. Treaty negotiations should address the establishment or maintenance of effective systems of export, import and transit licences, with the requirement that licences or authorizations be issued by competent national authorities of exporting and receiving States, and that the maintenance of detailed records contain relevant transfer-related information.
He urged caution with regard to the inclusion of some subjective criteria that could lack agreed definitions or disregard sovereign attributes of the recipient State. His country did not favour the inclusion of criteria such as those related to the “excessive accumulation of arms” by a State or that could associate a transfer with the impairment of efforts towards poverty reduction or socio-economic development. A strong treaty should help to combat the illicit weapons trade, and Brazil was ready to participate in fruitful negotiations.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON, Deputy Director of Multilateral Affairs Department of Cuba, said that the first step in negotiating an arms trade treaty was to clearly define its objective, which should be to contribute to combating and eradicating arms trafficking. Cuba would not support any effort that sought to affect State self-defence and security interests, including the principles of non-interference and political integrity. Cuba was also concerned at the insistence of a small number to countries to ignore the legitimate concerns of others. Such an approach would detract from the drive for consensus, an achievable goal which all delegations should pursue. Cuba believed that the treaty’s text should be as simple as possible and that it should not create any additional burden on States. It should also not give rise to unnecessary reporting burdens. In that regard, the flow of information must be based on voluntary submissions by States.
He said the arms trade treaty must be precise and applicable in an objective manner, reiterating that it should guarantee the right of every State to manufacture or import arms for its legitimate defence and security needs. In addition, transfers to non-State actors must be clearly reflected and there must be a prohibition on transfers to States that used force. Cuba did not support the convening of parallel meetings during the negotiations because such meetings always had significant impact on smaller delegations, which did not have the resources to cover all of them.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that for his country, the purpose of the arms trade treaty was not to prevent the legitimate right of States to self-defence, but rather to regulate the trade of conventional arms and prevent the diversion of legal arms to illegal markets. The treaty should be an essentially legal document with a focus on trade and security issues. Hence, it should not be overly burdened with linkages to concepts that were immeasurable and broad in nature or that were not fully shared or agreed upon. The inclusion of such concepts in a separate declaration or resolution annexed to the draft treaty could be considered, but not within the treaty.
He said Malaysia supported the so-called 7+1 arrangement for the treaty, covering the seven categories of major weapons along with small arms and light weapons. Malaysia saw the need for clarification of the transactions or activities to be covered to ensure that States would not be overly burdened in the treaty’s implementation. Verification should be through confidence-building measures, which would derive from provisions for record-keeping, reporting and transparency. In addition, Malaysia agreed with the idea of establishing an implementation support unit, the role of which should be solely administrative and logistical.
JARMO VIINANEN ( Finland) said that addressing the need to regulate in conventional weapons with an international treaty was long overdue. The international community now had a momentum for an effective treaty and must seize that opportunity. An efficient and universal arms trade treaty should include a wide definition of various types of arms transfers and the widest possible arms scope as its central elements. As it should be a modern instrument, the most sophisticated and technologically advanced conventional arms should be included. It was also vital to include small arms and light weapons, as well as ammunition. Easy access to small arms and light weapons caused worldwide human suffering, increased criminality, and threatened civilian populations. Irresponsible transfers of conventional arms could easily lead to destabilization in various States and regions, contribute to human rights abuses, especially of women and children, and exacerbate internal conflicts.
For the treaty to be robust and effective, it should bind States parties legally, he said, adding that it should include clear and precise criteria for licensing. The most important criteria, however, related to human rights, international human rights law and humanitarian law, and those must be binding. As the treaty would be implemented at the national level, the full engagement of all States was needed. It should include provisions on assistance to States with no licensing system.
DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand) said only a treaty that met high standards would produce real outcomes for human security and development worldwide. Her country would support the adoption of a treaty that was comprehensive in the nature of weapons it covered and types of activities it regulated. That meant the broadest possible range of conventional weapons, including ammunition, “componentry” and small arms and light weapons, as well as a full spectrum of transactions beyond exports, including re-export, transit, transhipment, imports, loans, leases and gifts, as well as brokering activities.
The treaty also should go beyond simply repeating existing circumstances whereby a State was already obligated not to transfer conventional arms internationally, and should include situations where arms would likely provoke or exacerbate internal or regional conflict, contribute to economic or social destabilization and displacement, and be used by criminal groups or end up in the hands of terrorists. In addition, the treaty should address international assistance and cooperation. “We are not starting without the wheel,” she said, referring to the four preparatory meetings and the President’s text providing an excellent basis for the way forward. Reminding delegates that the task at hand was not to regulate a States’ internal matters, and provisions would not affect the ability of gun owners to enjoy the recreational uses of their weapons at home or abroad, for instance to compete in the Olympics. Rather, the task was to set the terms for the international arms trade. “Its standards must be high to meet the expectations of so many that this treaty will improve the chances for a better life, and peace and stability, in many parts of the globe,” she urged.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt) said ensuring the Conference’s successful conclusion depended on being faithful to its multilateral character and the inclusiveness of participation. All States must have an equal opportunity to voice concerns and to address them effectively and they should be on equal footing and be heard with equal attention. It was against that backdrop that his delegation had taken part in the informal exchanges on the full participation of Palestine and the Holy See. “We believe such participation is of primary importance to my delegation and to the Arab Group,” he said. “It is crucial to the success of the Conference. Egypt and the Arab Group see no room for double standards in any serious consideration of this matter.”
Turning to details of the treaty, he said that since trade included import and export, the interests of importing States must be safeguarded as much as those of exporters. As current Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, he pointed to the final document agreed at a May meeting in Egypt by Foreign Ministers of the Movement, which recognized the significant imbalance in the production, possession and trade in conventional weapons between industrialized and Non-Aligned countries and called for a significant reduction in those areas of conventional weapons, with a view to enhancing international and regional peace and security.
An effective treaty must include guarantees against political abuse and provide States with incentives that could convince them to join a treaty that only exporting States were expected to implement, he said. All efforts must be made to bring production and stockpiles in major producing States under international scrutiny, as global accountability was the only guarantee against abuse of the existing imbalance between major arms producers and the rest of the world. “The present proposal of a potential treaty disregards this important aspect,” he said. “It assumes a special status for major arms producers/exporters that allowed them to impose self-proclaimed restrictions.” The current proposal also did not provide importers with a phased appeal mechanism against political abuse. A potential treaty must enhance international peace and stability, the biggest threat being from foreign occupation. With that in mind, foreign occupation must be included as one of the fundamental criteria in an arms trade treaty, he said.
CHRISTINE BEERLI, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that an effective arms trade treaty was an essential tool for ensuring that international humanitarian law was respected by all parties to armed conflict, be they international or non-international in nature. In many parts of the world, weapons were far too easy to obtain and armed violence was pervasive. That situation was created and sustained by the inadequately regulated international trade in conventional arms. In many of the countries where it worked, the Committee was witness to the effects of inadequate control over conventional weapons transfers. Those who were disabled were treated either in its rehabilitation centres or in those that it supported. All too often, however, assistance for the sick and wounded was simply not available because humanitarian aid had been suspended or delayed owing to armed attacks and security threats.
She said the arms trade treaty should require States to assess the likelihood that serious violations of humanitarian law would be committed with the weapons being transferred. It should prohibit transfers when there was a clear risk of that happening, in both international and non-international armed conflicts. The treaty should cover all conventional weapons. It was equally important that it cover ammunition, which was the fuel of weapons-related violence. There were already massive numbers of weapons in circulation, but their impact depended on a constant supply of ammunition. To be truly effective, the arms trade treaty must apply the same criteria to ammunition transfers as it did to weapons transfers.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, speaking on behalf of Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, said an arms trade treaty would be a first in the area of arms control and the first global regulation of the only aspect of globalization that had yet to be regulated. The instrument defined at this Conference must be a significant contribution to peace and security, as well as to help reduce violence, consolidate fragile States, contribute to compliance with human rights and humanitarian law and bolster the fight against terrorism and organized crime. “These are all the political foundations of the future treaty,” he said.
The treaty did not aim to ban or limit arms trade, but to regulate it and ensure responsible conduct. “We must not forget that the arms trade is legal,” he said. “This treaty will bolster its legitimacy.” The scope needed to be, among other things, ambitious and cover all equipment and types of transfers subjected to control. The treaty’s effectiveness will depend on its implementing measures, which should include the establishment by every State party of an arms transfer control mechanism based on the highest common standards possible. Assistance, cooperation and transparency were other crucial elements of a successful treaty.
RITA KAZRAGIENE (Lithuania) said her country was fully committed to negotiate a strong conventional arms trade treaty, which included small arms and light weapons and ammunition, and applied to all types of activities related to transfers, including export, import, transit, transhipment brokering and technical assistance. It was necessary to ensure that the treaty did not hinder States from operating more restrictive national transfer policies.
To address today’s challenges, she said, the treaty should contain clear criteria that allowed Governments to assess each and every conventional arms transfer, and that ensured compliance with internationally agreed norms on human rights and humanitarian law by the end-user. She also supported norms that would prevent transfers likely to be used to perpetrate acts of gender-based and sexual violence. “For the arms trade treaty to be truly effective, it must go further and contain provisions that would hinder transfers of conventional arms if they could provoke or prolong armed conflicts and aggravate existing tensions in the country of final destination,” she said.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) said even though her country was neither an arms producer nor among nations directly affected by conflict, it felt that the preservation of peace and security, and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law were the foundations of collective security and a responsibility shared by all. That sense of common responsibility should guide the Conference towards the adoption of effective and appropriate rules for the arms trade. Such a treaty was needed to reduce the harmful consequences of insufficient regulation.
She said the treaty should be comprehensive and cover all conventional weapons in the United Nations Register as well as small arms and light weapons, ammunition and related technology. It must also use terminology that left little room for divergent interpretations. Criteria to evaluate risks linked to arms transfers must be solid, ambitious, not restricted to United Nations embargoes, and inclusive of international humanitarian law. The treaty should also contain clauses on international cooperation. Given the participation of non-governmental organizations, the Conference must integrate their messages into its work.
HABIB MASSOUD (Canada), Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said that while acting on the question of illegal trade in arms, it was important that an arms trade treaty recognize the legitimate trade in conventional weapons and their personal and recreational. It was, therefore, important that those two conditions be recognized in the treaty’s preamble, as that would clarify the instrument’s intent. He then proposed language for two paragraphs that could reflect those conditions, stressing that those were important and would help to put a focus on the treaty’s aim.
In order to apply the criteria proposed for the treaty, he said it was also important that it recognize and respect each State party’s unique situation. Thus, each State could determine how to meet its obligations. Also, the treaty should not result in any new burdens being placed on firearms owners. Turning to the proposal for an implementation support unit, he said that such a unit should be minimal, small and flexible and should be created out of existing resources. It was necessary to avoid, as much as possible, creating new burdens.
AMIR SAGIE, Deputy Director, Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel , said that his country attached great importance to the arms trade treaty process. It had strived to ensure that that process was free of political manoeuvrings. The international community should aim at creating a global, comprehensive and legally binding instrument. The implementation of the treaty should be under the national the discretion of States. The important task and vision for the treaty called for concerted effort to bring on board States where regulation did not exist. Its focus should be on high policy standards.
He said the treaty was an important step in the struggle against terrorism. It must set clear standards, norms and operational responsibilities and should enhance States’ individual and collective responsibility. The question of transparent reporting required careful consideration and should not be used to encroach on States’ legal activities. He added that the treaty should respect lawful ownership of firearms. Finally, he said, illegal arms trafficking was too big for any country to tackle alone.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said the main objective of the Conference was the need to contribute to a safer world, free of threats. While the immediate objective was the arms trade, it was important to keep in mind that the illicit trade had a deep impact on many countries. Uncontrolled arms trafficking was a major international threat, and a legally binding treaty should set standards to ensure that weapons were not diverted to the black market and that human rights and international humanitarian law were upheld.
He said the President’s discussion paper was a good basis for negotiations. Criteria should include all categories of conventional arms, including ammunition and related materials, and the treaty should be open to covering new and emerging types of arms. The treaty must also have a system of transfer registers. Support to States for national processes would assist in preventing diversion of arms to illicit markets. The treaty was an important opportunity to reach agreement on difficult topics and could be a starting point to eradicate the illicit arms trade, which had grave effects in many regions.
MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia) said the treaty’s preamble should include recognition that the absence of commonly agreed international standards for conventional arms transfers and their diversion to the illicit market was a contributing factor to human trafficking, armed conflict, terrorism and crime. Criteria should be clear, and control provisions should be defined for all types of transfers, including loans and gifts.
Concerning imports, he said States parties should validate adequate measures to prevent the diversion of imported arms to unauthorized end-users and to the illicit market. He was deeply concerned about the consequences of illicit trafficking, and the treaty should aim to promote greater transparency through increased reporting. However, to ease the administrative burden of the envisaged control measures, he foresaw different levels of reporting for different categories.
OLEXANDR ALEKSANDROVYCH ( Ukraine) said that a changing global economy and technological and scientific developments had created new proliferation challenges in the field of arms trade. Since 2009, Ukraine had supported developments related to an arms trade treaty. At the sixty-fourth General Assembly session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and during the sessions of the open–ended working group established by resolution 63/240, the country had actively participated in the debates, substantially contributing to the thematic expert discussion on the contents of a future such treaty. It focused its work in the preparatory period on internal coordination and extensive international consultation with interested parties. General Assembly resolution 64/48 foresaw that the current international conference should adopt a legally binding treaty. Its text should be feasible, and Ukraine hoped that the treaty would put an end to conflicting views about establishing global control over arms transfers.
He said that as more States acceded to such a treaty, the closer the international community would approach its common goals of putting global conventional arms transfers under robust international control with the aim of highlighting and preventing its illicit international trade. Successful implementation of that objective, by deterring the diversion of arms into the illicit market, would also undermine the activities of transnational organized crime and terrorism. In that way, it would contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability, thereby promoting transparency and accountability in international conventional arms transfers.
WILFRIED EMVULA ( Namibia) said that poor regulation of the global arms and ammunition trade fuelled conflict. Regulation, therefore, would contribute to maintaining international peace and security. General Assembly resolutions 61/89 and 64/481 provided a platform to address the establishment of common international standards for the import, export and transfer of arms. Namibia envisaged an instrument that was of global reach, legally binding and comprehensive in scope. The treaty should not just legitimise existing trade, but should have unambiguous language that clearly defined States parties’ obligations.
He said the treaty should be applicable to the full range of conventional arms and ammunition; it was the ammunition that made the arms lethal. Namibia noted the importance attached to consensus, and agreed that consensus was a means to achieve a strong and robust treaty. As such, it held that nothing was agreed until everything was agreed. His country foresaw a treaty that was transparent and that could only be implemented effectively through a reporting mechanism. International cooperation and assistance to help developing countries in their reporting obligations were necessary. He added that the treaty should not compromise the right of States to arm themselves for legitimate self-defence.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV ( Kazakhstan) said the number of conflicts involving conventional weapons had increased over the last decade. The time had come for mutual compromise and commitment to produce a robust treaty. The outcome should be an effective document with clear goals and parameters, based on the highest international standards. The treaty should set the standards of control over arms trafficking and its scope should cover conventional weapons, including handguns and grenades, which were commonly used in armed conflicts.
He added that mechanisms should monitor the “grey areas”, which included territories where conflicts were taking place or had occurred in the past. Issues and challenges must not divide the Member States, but enhance discussions to work towards the common goal, he said.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI ( Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Arab League, said he regretted that some parties had derailed the launch of the Conference regarding Palestine’s participation. All States should participate, he said, noting that Arab States, including Palestine, had decided to deal with the resolution of the matter despite the inequality of the decision. He emphasized the right of Palestine to full membership in the United Nations, as well as its right to participate in all meetings of the United Nations.
Welcoming any arms regulation as long as it was balanced, he said no such result could be achieved except within the multilateral context of the United Nations. The Arab League wanted to emphasize that the viability of the arms trade would rely on achieving collectively reached goals. He welcomed the fact that the recent preparatory conference had adopted draft procedures. The treaty should be negotiated in an atmosphere of inclusivity and a State’s right to self-defence and self-determination needed to be kept in mind. The treaty should also take into account stockpiles of major arms-producing States. Brokering under national authority should be outside an arms trade treaty. Assistance and cooperation was needed, including the provision of aid to victims. The treaty should enter force with as many ratifications as possible. Turning to Israel, he said its occupation of Palestinian Territory was a violation of the United Nations Charter.
ERTUGRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said inclusivity in the negotiating process was crucial and he supported the participation of Palestine and the Holy See in the “all States” format. Turning to the treaty, he said high standards should be established in a transparent manner. The inherent right of States to self-defence was a given, but States must adhere to universal norms and fulfil their obligations to international instruments. The treaty should not contain loopholes in terms of the weapons it covers, and man-portable air defence systems, landmines and small arms and light weapons were among the arms that should be included, alongside the United Nations Conventional Arms Register’s seven weapons categories.
He said that while some sceptics believed differences would challenge the negotiations, all delegations were fully aware of the consequences of an unregulated arms trade. “We have all the reasons and means to achieve a successful arms trade treaty for a safer world,” he concluded.
CARLOS SANCHEZ DE BOADO Y DE LA VALGOMA ( Spain) said since no international standards existed to regulate conventional weapons transfers, delegates were aiming to do their best to produce them. Spain supported the national authority as the entity responsible for granting licenses for weapons transfers. Additionally, joining such a treaty did not relinquish any legal right or the right to self-defense.
“Our objective is not to abolish weapons, or the right to manufacture them, sell them and acquire them in order to guarantee safety, but we will be happy to honestly contribute to reduce their number, to regulate buying and sell of arms, thus reducing the number of innocent victims of the irresponsible and criminal use of weapons,” he said, adding that the treaty referred to international trade and did not mean internal market or intra-State trade. The development and definition of the principles and standards that governed the treaty should be based on, among other things, obligations to respect embargoes and human rights and humanitarian law, and take into account the economic and technical capacity of countries so their purchases do not put at risk the economic, social and self-survival capacity of their populations.
SOMKIAT BOONCHOO ( Thailand) said despite diverging views, he believed participants must share similar goals and objectives to achieve such a treaty’s universality. The instrument’s primary objective should be addressing illicit weapons transfers. The scope should recognize pre-existing frameworks, and criteria should ensure States’ inherent right to self-defence.
He said that an effective implementation mechanism should prevent the treaty from being used as a disguise for political pressure and interference, for protectionist trade policies or for exploiting other States.
ROBERTO DONDISCH ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Latin America and Caribbean, said the treaty should not be understood as an exporters’ agreement. Its implementation must address the concerns of both exporters and importers. Interaction between parties to a transfer was necessary to ensure their joint implementation. The treaty should be strong and effective. The absence of commonly agreed standards for transfers resulted in grave effects.
He agreed with previous speakers that clear implementation mechanisms were needed. The list of conventional arms should include all types, including small arms and light weapons, technology and other materials. The scope should also encompass all types of transfers, as any exceptions would create dangerous loopholes. All measures should be taken to prevent the diversion of weapons into illegal markets. Information sharing was also important among States parties.
THOMAS COUNTRYMAN, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, United States, speaking on behalf of the “P5” group (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), said the group supported efforts aimed at establishing an international instrument that could help in solving illicit trafficking. A treaty should be simple, short and easy to implement, with specific goals and should not hinder the legitimate arms trade. An effective instrument would help to curb the illicit trade in conventional arms.
He added that the treaty should require States parties to establish national control systems based on international standards, and include adequate legislative procedures and inter-agency cooperation. The treaty’s scope should include the broadest range of arms, and cooperation and assistance should be important parts of future arrangements. States should establish national contact points and a support unit could be created to assist in matching needs with resources.
HAN THU (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the perspectives of all Member States, including those expressed in Preparatory Committee meetings and reflected in the compilation of views on elements of an arms trade treaty, must be considered in developing the text. No supposition should be made on any nation’s behalf and no region should be left out of the negotiations. Any procedural issues that might arise should be resolved in accordance with the agreed rules of procedure and in the spirit of flexibility. Noting that illicit arms trade hampered the peace, stability and development of nations and regions, he said that the arms trade treaty should aim to address the prevention and eradication of the illicit transfers.
Recognizing that countries of different regions would have their own unique priorities and needs, he said the treaty should have clear provisions for international cooperation and technical assistance to support States that lacked sufficient capacity to implement the treaty. An agreed consultation mechanism between States parties should be established by the treaty, as that would ensure the credibility and consistency of implementation. An achievable, comprehensive, effective and balanced legally binding instrument which adequately addressed the concerns of exporting as well as importing States would contribute to the effective prevention of international illicit arms trade.
JO ADAMSON, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament, said this was a historic moment. The international trade in conventional arms had lacked controls for too long, and the security and humanitarian effects were all too clear. Agreement must be reached on a legally binding treaty. “We can do it,” she implored.
She said that the United Nations Charter provided the foundation, and it was imperative that the disarmament machinery delivered a strong treaty that would help to maintain international peace and security while protecting fundamental rights and freedoms. Such a treaty had to the potential to bring real benefits to all United Nations Member States.
NORIA AL-HAMAMI ( Yemen) said this Conference was seeking to create the first legally binding conventional arms instrument to address arms trafficking, given its direct impact on countries, including those dealing with unstable situations. Her country had taken giant steps to strengthen democratic practices and freedoms, and had recognized early on the importance of weapons regulations. She hoped the treaty would promote international peace and security, and added that the negotiations should be based on principles of transparency and clarity.
Moreover, she said, the treaty should not undermine the right of States to self-defence and to acquire and manufacture technologies. The treaty should be realistic and meet everyone’s aspirations. At the same time, it should not underestimate nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear-weapon-free zones should be supported, including such a zone in the Middle East. All the countries of the world were watching, she said. Decisions must be made that met the needs of all people.
Mr. DONDISCH (Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, said a treaty must be put in place that regulated international weapons transfers, but it would be of little use without a focus on the diversion of weapons to illicit markets. Clear legal language as dictated by international law must be used, and the text must cover all conventional weapons, as criminals did not differentiate between a weapon made for sport or to kill. “We should not make those differentiations either,” he said.
He said, however, that a system that led to controlled use would always be more effective than a punitive system. Due attention must be given to preventing arms diversions. A treaty could not be a statement of good intentions, but a commitment by States parties. Flexibility to address all challenges from trade to the illicit market would be central to reaching agreement in this room. Several States had criticized that discussions had taken place outside this multilateral forum. This month would be crucial for the Organization, he said.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands) said the workload was heavy and time was short. It was important that the treaty had a broad scope, and criteria should include humanitarian law. Transparency mechanisms were also needed, he said.
ANASTASSIS MITSIALIS ( Greece) said the high standards he envisaged for a treaty would contribute to reducing the illicit arms trade. To achieve that goal, the scope should encompass all military conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, and ammunition. The process should be comprehensive and parameters must include compliance with Security Council resolutions and respect for international humanitarian law and human rights.
He said that effective control of exports, imports, brokering and transit was crucial to regulate the international arms trade, as was enhanced public reporting. To reach the objective on an effective treaty, caution must be used on scope, parameters and implementation. Differences should be set aside to achieve progress in those areas, he said.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said the treaty should fill the glaring gap in the global arms control system and set high norms to which States would adhere when considering arms transfers. States should establish arms control systems, and national guidelines and enforcement measures. His country believed it was vital that the term “transfers” should be broad, including transit and brokering. He supported a treaty that would regulate military and commercial arms transfers, and include small arms and light weapons, and ammunition.
He said that while some States might complain of administrative reporting burdens, he believed the deaths and injuries caused by conventional weapons far outweighed that burden. Agreed upon criteria must take into account humanitarian law, he said, adding that an implementation support unit should be assigned a clear role with necessary resources and a secretariat should also be established.
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