Vol. 37, No. 2
Arms Trade Treaty: Politicians sign declaration
In December 2006, 153 governments voted at the United Nations to start work on a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to regulate the trade and transfer of conventional weapons. Preparatory meetings have been held in July 2010, February and July 2011, and February 2012; the final negotiating conference will be held in July. The ATT has also been a point of discussion at UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security meetings, which are held annually in October. In the last few weeks, more than 125 Members of Parliament from around the world have signed the Control Arms Global Parliamentarian Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty; the signed declaration will be presented to participants at the July 2012 conference. It is promoted by Control Arms, a global civil society alliance campaigning for a strong ATT. Excerpts from the Parliamentarian Declaration follow:
The international community stands at a crossroads in the negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty. As democratically elected Members of Parliament worldwide, we strongly endorse and support this negotiation process, which must deliver a robust, legally binding instrument that effectively tackles the devastating consequences of armed violence and conflict around the globe.
We are concerned that the international trade in arms, when undertaken irresponsibly or diverted to illicit markets, contributes to armed conflict and armed violence. This often results in serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, internal and cross-border displacement, terrorism, organized and common crime, and the facilitation of the illicit trade in narcotics.
Moreover, it facilitates gender-based violence against women – who also disproportionately endure the indirect, longer-term consequences of armed violence. In turn, all these factors undermine peace and peace-building processes, human security, poverty reduction initiatives, and prospects for sustainable socio-economic development.
… At a minimum, the ATT should establish that no international transfer of arms and ammunition will be authorized if there is a substantial risk that the weapons will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, or will seriously impair poverty reduction or socio-economic development.
We also recognize that for an ATT to have proper impact, its scope must be comprehensive and include all international transfers of conventional weapons, and in particular small arms and light weapons, but also all related ammunition and equipment used to deploy potentially lethal force in military and internal security operations.
As legislators from around the world, we are not only supporters of an effective ATT, we also have a major role and responsibility in making this Treaty a meaningful reality.
As advocates we can and will continue to actively engage with our colleagues in the executive branches of government to ensure they give the ATT the priority it deserves and remain informed of the concerns that must be properly addressed therein. We will also actively advocate for ratification of the ATT in our respective countries when the ATT is in place.
As lawmakers we will draft the legislation which will give effect to the ATT in our respective countries, and will seek to ensure that any such domestic laws faithfully reflects and integrates the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty.
As guardians of the peoples' trust we will ensure, through our oversight and accountability responsibilities, that our respective governments properly implement and enforce domestic law giving effect to the ATT. Legislation is only as good as its implementation.
We hereby call upon all of our fellow stakeholders worldwide in the negotiation of this Arms Trade Treaty to join us as we redouble our efforts, in the months ahead, to create a strong international agreement that will prevent irresponsible and illicit arms trading between countries. A robust ATT will greatly reduce the needless and massive loss of human life and livelihoods while at the same time not impeding the operation of the legitimate global arms trade as carried out with full respect for the rule of law and international standards.
Learn more about the efforts to enact the ATT on the Control Arms website.