Drive for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) moves to the UN First Committee
27 July 2012
Four weeks of negotiations at the ATT Diplomatic Conference (DipCon) at the UN in New York ended on Friday 27 July with States unable to agree a final text. Hopes were high with one day to go that agreement was within reach, but on the morning of the final Friday the US delegation announced that in their opinion there was still too much to do to nail down all the remaining differences, and that more time was needed.
At this point, the problems connected with the consensus-based nature of the process were laid bare, as without the US it was impossible for the DipCon to recommend a final text.
However, over the course of the month much was achieved. A level of consensus was reached over the shape and much of the content of a Treaty, and by the end of the month there were only a few outstanding issues still to be resolved. While the draft text fell short of expectations in many respects, it would have, if agreed, created a significant positive change in the international arms-trade landscape.
Following the US’s surprise announcement, States from all around the world demonstrated their commitment to a robust ATT. In very short order, 90 States signed up to a statement in which they announced their determination “to secure an Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible. One that would bring about a safer world for the sake of all humanity.”
The draft text presented to the DipCon on 26 July by the President, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritán, was then appended to the DipCon report to be sent to the UN First Committee, and many delegates spoke of their intention to use that draft as the basis for pursuing an ATT through the UN First Committee/General Assembly process before the end of the year. In spite of today’s lack of agreement, momentum is gathering for a legally-binding, global treaty to bring the international arms trade under control, and to prevent the arms transfers that cause mayhem and destruction around the world. The spotlight will be on the General Assembly this year to agree a text of which the international community can be proud.