22 May 2012 — On 21 and 22 May 2012, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), through its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), organized the African Regional Consultation on the Arms Trade Treaty at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The meeting was organized jointly with the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in cooperation with the African Union Commission, and was made possible with financial support from the Government of Australia.
The meeting was an opportunity for experts from Member States who would represent their governments at the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in July to further discuss the various issues that would likely arise at that Conference. Experts also discussed the possibility of an African common position on the ATT.
United Nations Member States have been discussing the adoption of a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty since 2006, a preparatory process that culminated in a four-week United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, held in New York from 2 to 27 July.
“Without robust common standards to guide national decisions on arms transfers, it is easier for arms to be used in violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law and to be diverted to illicit markets,” said the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane, during her opening remarks and encouraged Member States to voice their support for a strong and effective ATT.
Governmental experts from 49 African countries, and officials from the United Nations, the African Union and African regional economic communities attended the consultation as did Ambassador Roberto García Moritán, then President-designate of the Arms Trade Treaty Conference and the African Union Peace and Security Commissioner, Mr. Ramtane Lamamra. Leading regional and international think-tanks and non-governmental organizations also took part in the meeting as observers.