On 25 October 2016, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) and RAND Europe held a side event in the United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss current issues related to the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The presentations highlighted efforts in the Asia-Pacific region to increase ATT membership together with perceived barriers and obstacles to Treaty accession and implementation.
H.E. Mr. Klaus Korhonen, Permanent Representative of Finland and President of the Third Conference of States Parties to the ATT, moderated the panel. In his opening remarks, he encouraged all States to become parties of the Treaty and highlighted that the ATT is a young regime that sets high standards but is also flexible. Furthermore, Ambassador Korhonen stated that the promotion of the universalization of the ATT is a priority for Finland’s presidency of the Conference of States Parties.
Mr. Giacomo Persi Paoli, Project Manager of RAND Europe and Ms. Elli Kytömäki, Project Consultant of RAND Europe, presented the results of their South-East Asia focused study: “Towards a universal Arms Trade Treaty”. The goal of the study was to support the universalization of the Treaty by identifying barriers and obstacles to its ratification. Mr. Paoli introduced the concept of ‘national systematic readiness’, which consists of factors that influence a country’s willingness to embark on the process of ratification and consequent implementation. Moreover, Ms. Elli Kytömäki, summarised the findings of the analysis and pointed out that countries are particularly conscious about the legally binding nature of the ATT. In addition, she underscored that limited access to qualified human resources, limited inter-agency cooperation or inadequacy of infrastructure are challenges that play a critical role in the successful implementation of the ATT.
Mr. Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of UNRCPD, drew attention to UNRCPD’s recent projects and activities. UNRCPD has been working with Member States in Asia and the Pacific to facilitate the provision of assistance to States seeking to implement the ATT. In the area of promoting the ATT, the Centre has carried out several projects in the year 2016: A national workshop was conducted to enhance Thailand’s capacity in implementing the Programme of Action and meeting import, export and transfer standards of conventional arms stipulated in the ATT. The Regional Centre also conducted a sub-regional capacity building workshop in Bangkok that served to foster interactive regional dialogue and to enhance the capacity of governments in meeting requirements of the ATT. Furthermore, UNRCPD hosted a sub-regional capacity building workshop for implementation of the ATT, in Apia. The workshop served to highlight the relevance of the Treaty as well as to enhance States’ capacities in acceding to and implementing the ATT.
H.E. Ms. Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Thailand, underlined that the illicit arms trade as well as the purchase of weapons in South-East Asia have increased. Therefore, the Ambassador stressed the importance of strengthening the national arms control. Amb.Chartsuwan stated that international cooperation can help to reduce illicit arms trade and that Thailand is a strong supporter of the ATT. She pointed out the need for worldwide standards and underscored that Member States should share information and experiences with each other. According to Amb. Chartsuwan, more States should become signatories of the ATT, since the Treaty contributes to human security.
Text by Julia Bhattacharjee