International Parliamentary Seminar on the Arms Trade Treaty
BGIPU welcomed to London more than 60 parliamentarians and arms control experts from across the globe from 3-5 November 2014, for an International Parliamentary Seminar on the Arms Trade Treaty. The key objective of the meeting was to highlight the role of parliamentarians at a time when the ATT’s Entry into Force is imminent on 24 December now the requisite 50 ratifications have been achieved.
The ATT remains a landmark example of global willingness to take concrete action to address one of the key drivers of violent conflict and support for its provisions remains strong with an unanimous 150 nation vote encouraging support for Treaty in the UN’s First Committee recently. Nevertheless, its provisions and objectives are not well understood, including in parliaments. In convening the Seminar, BGIPU hoped to encourage greater awareness among parliamentarians in a diverse range of countries through debate on best practise for legislation and domestication of the ATT. The participants also discussed how parliamentarians can work to strengthen oversight, enforcement and accountability of the ATT at the national and international level to ultimately save lives and reduce the impacts of violent conflict.
By bringing together parliamentarians from across the globe to discuss the parliamentary aspects of the Arms Trade Treaty, BGIPU was successful in raising awareness and increasing knowledge of the ATT among legislators and also encouraged increased debate in individual parliaments and globally.
At its conclusion, the participants in the seminar endorsed a statement entitled “Parliamentary Perspectives on the Arms Trade Treaty ahead of the First Conference of States Parties”. As agreed among participants, the outcome document was also conveyed from the BGIPU Chair to the Mexican Government to be drawn to the attention of the First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty when it meets in August 2015.
Following is the Outcome Document and Proceedings of the Seminar:
BACKGROUND TO THE SEMINAR
THE ARMS TRADE TREATY
On April 2 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty by an overwhelming majority, following six years of official negotiations. As of June, 118 states have signed the treaty, with 31 states reaching the ratification stage thus far.
The Arms Trade Treaty on its entry into force will, for the first time in International law, provide parameters and international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms resulting in a new multilateral framework for transparency and accountability in the arms trade. It is hoped that the ATT will reduce the devastating humanitarian and developmental impact of armed conflicts brought about through illicit and poorly regulated arms transfers.
The IPU have been engaged throughout the UN adoption process and most recently at the 129th Assembly in Geneva, October 2013, were active in promotion of the Treaty and its rapid ratification.
THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTARIANS
While the UNGA resolution was a major international arms control outcome, Parliaments should play a pivotal role in ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, in particular in adopting appropriate and effective national legislation for arms export control, including allocating resources and monitoring progress towards meeting its key commitments.
The purpose of the BGIPU International Seminar on the Arms Trade Treaty will be to bring together parliamentarians from around the globe to build upon the existing momentum surrounding ratification of the Treaty, encourage debate on best practise for legislation and domestication of the ATT and discuss implementation models for parliamentarians moving forward in oversight and enforcement of the ATT at national and international level.
Key topics explored during the seminar included: The importance of parliamentary oversight of arms export control regimes and the wider security sector; humanitarian and Developmental impacts of illicit arms sales and the diversion of arms; best practise, model legislation and opportunities for parliamentary cooperation in support of ratification of the ATT; discussion on effective implementation and integration with existing legislative arrangements on arms control; and, the Parliamentary role in ensuring State Parties compliance with the Treaty and contribution to the ongoing debate on these issues.