The first session of the 2019 Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) is being held in Geneva (from 11-15 March 2019). Ms. Mariela Fogante of Argentina was unanimously elected as Chairperson of the Group. She is the first woman to chair a GGE in the area of conventional arms since 1999. Another heartening piece of news is the unprecedented number of women representatives in the Group: 8 of the 15 experts in the first session are women.
The Register was established by the General Assembly in 1991, to enable Member States to voluntarily report international transfers of conventional arms. It is an instrument that promotes transparency in armaments and serves as an early-warning tool. Through UNROCA, States share information on their international transfers (imports and exports) of arms. As such, it constitutes an important confidence-building measure that can build trust among States and contribute to preventive diplomacy, peace and stability.
The resolution on “Transparency in armaments”, which provides the mandate for the Register, has been consistently supported by the overwhelming majority of Member States, and no country has ever voted against it. The present GGE, which is also mandated by that resolution, is tasked with conducting the 8th review of the operation of UNROCA. It will also make recommendations on the Register’s further development, to ensure that it stays current with changing global political and military realities and new developments in weapons technology.
Notably, confidence-building measures are a key theme in the Disarmament Agenda of the Secretary-General, which was launched in May 2018. In this connection, one of the recommended topics for this GGE is to discuss how the Register data can be made better use of, with a view to contributing to the implementation of Secretary-General disarmament agenda
Ms. Fogante is a well-known personality in the multilateral disarmament and arms control community, having worked extensively on a wide range of conventional arms issues. From 2007 to 2013, she was a member of the diplomatic staff of the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the International Organizations in Geneva and delegate to the Conference on Disarmament. Ms. Fogante has represented Argentina as an expert in a number of groups of governmental experts, including the GGE process on the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Production of Fissile Material and other explosives devises (FMCT) and the subsequent round of discussion of the related High-Level Group of Expert. Most recently, she participated in the work of the 2017-2018 GGE on the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures. Among other responsibilities, Ms. Fogante is currently the National Authority of Argentina for the Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.