The afternoon meeting of the ATT Preparatory Committee on Wednesday, July 21 was the first meeting to be held openly after three days of closed sessions. Chairman Moritan focused the meeting on international cooperation and assistance, as well as the inclusion of transparency, into the proposed Arms Trade Treaty.
Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed its support for including clauses on international cooperation and assistance in the ATT. Belgium stated that the implementation of the provisions of the ATT should primarily be a national responsibility; however, assistance should be given to countries upon request, such as in the fields of legislation, institution-building and technical and administrative support. France supported the remarks of the EU, and specifically stressed the importance of mutual legal assistance, calling for a “judiciary program” which should help in capturing actors who do not follow the provisions of the ATT.
Australia also supported the idea of including international cooperation and assistance in the ATT and suggested the implementation of a mechanism for matching needs and resources between states party. Brazil stated that international cooperation in the prevention and combat and of illicit weapons should be a primary purpose of the ATT. The country specifically pointed out the need for sharing information and identifying liaison points between state parties. Pakistan asserted that ATT-related assistance and support should only be considered upon request of the concerned state; it should not evolve out of exterior criticism issued by other states. Referring to Pakistan's statement, Nigeria responded that victim assistance should not happen only upon request. The African country believes that actors who have done harm through the illicit arms trade should be responsible for addressing the needs of the victims. Nigeria also emphasized the need for the ATT to recognize regional arms embargoes.
Australia stated that including transparency in the treaty contributes to peace and security through confidence-building measures. However, the country is of the opinion that the ATT should not pose unnecessary reporting obligations on small states. Belgium, representing the European Union, pointed out that transparency is an overarching issue that should be achieved through the submission of annual national reports to a secretarial structure for inclusion in a public UN database. Additionally, the EU called for establishing a mechanism to review the implementation of the ATT, as well as monitoring transparency and reinforcing the treaty; ideally, this would occur in the form of a review conference every five years. Pakistan said that 'transparency is a problematic concept' which must be established at the discretion of a state, due to national security and regional stability concerns. The country also made clear that it is rather reluctant concerning inclusion in the treaty of third-party involvement in bilateral arms trade agreements, and stressed that if any interference happens there must always be a reasonable ground of evidence for such action.
The United States, without referring to any concrete proposals, reminded the other delegations that they should reflect on whether some of their suggestions are contributing to the creation of a strong and successful ATT or rather steer the negotiations in the direction of failure. The US also pointed out that time is precious and should not be wasted on issues that will not be fruitful in further discussions, pushing countries to propose ideas on the basis of their support from other delegations.
Verena Simmel is an intern with the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security. Poonam Sethi, an intern with the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, contributed additional reporting.