ATT: Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation

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Statement delivered by Cesar Jaramillo on behalf of Control Arms

May 29, 2018 Geneva, Switzerland

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 39 Issue 2 Summer 2018 

Thank you, Chair.

Control Arms recognizes the value of full and robust compliance with the Treaty in its entirety as the key measure of its effectiveness. At this time, however, we want to draw special attention to the paramount importance of the effective implementation of Articles 6 and 7, which deal, respectively, with Prohibitions and Risk Assessment.

We welcome the facilitators’ initiative to introduce presentations at the beginning of each sub-working group on these articles, so far from Sweden and Japan.

In our view, such exchanges of information and views are an important step toward the robust and credible implementation of Articles 6 and 7. This fosters transparency and accountability around arms transfer decision processes. Control Arms urges all States Parties to contribute substantially to these discussions.

While we welcome the draft guidance document on a possible list of resources to consider in a risk assessment, we believe the sources of information could be expanded to include others such as the ICRC Practical Guide on Arms Transfer Decisions, the User’s Guide to the EU Common Position on Arms Exports, the ATT Monitor or Saferworld’s ATT Expert Group Reports. Further, we consider that a human rights based approach to risk assessment is an important element towards aligning the ATT with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Distinguished delegates,

Today there is perhaps no more egregious violation of the purpose and objectives of the Arms Trade Treaty than arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that are at risk of being used in the war in Yemen, thereby contributing to the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in that country. Such arms transfers not only constitute flagrant contraventions of Articles 6 and 7, but also risk undermining the very integrity of the Treaty.

When the last Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty was held here in Geneva, there were approximately 250,000 cases of cholera in Yemen. Within the next six months the number quadrupled to more than 1,000,000, with UNICEF currently expecting another outbreak with the return of the rainy season.

Despite overwhelming evidence of ongoing human rights and international humanitarian law violations by Saudi Arabia over the past 3 years, arms sales from some States to Riyadh continue unabated. Control Arms would like to hear from exporters, including France and the UK, how their risk assessment and risk mitigation measures were found to be compatible with arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition.

It would also be useful to hear from those states that have changed their arms export policies to Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Norway, Finland, Germany, the Flemish and Waloon regions of Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Sharing information on examples of exports they have denied will help build understanding, good practice and norms around the implementation and compliance with Articles 6 and 7.

Irresponsible arms transfers to persistent human-rights and humanitarian law violators such as Saudi Arabia exacerbate armed conflict, enable the violation of human rights and sustain repressive regimes. They create conditions in which innocent civilians die, every single day. They help validate the skepticism of those who feel that the ATT will not prevent the most questionable arms transfers.

At the same time, some of the states that are engaged in irresponsible arms transfers tend to be among those speaking most loudly — and eloquently — about the importance of full treaty compliance. For a growing number of observers such rhetoric rings increasingly hollow and detached from reality.

If substantive matters are not discussed in a Working Group specifically focused on treaty implementation, it is very hard for us to see where such discussions might otherwise take place. We feel strongly that it is the responsibility of all States Parties and signatories to the ATT, not just civil society, to speak out against violations of Articles 6 and 7 of the ATT.

Chair,

Full compliance with Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty constitutes a compelling testament to its credibility and effectiveness.

Unless there is a fundamental change in the business-as-usual approach to the global arms trade that prompted the international community to adopt the ATT in the first place, there is a real risk that the value and promise of this historic treaty will be gradually eroded. □

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