15 March 2013, New York, USA – Almost 50 participants, mostly from Member States, gathered at the United Nations Headquarters for the UNITAR Negotiation Training “Towards the Arms Trade Treaty.” The workshop, which the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs sponsored, provided delegates the chance to discuss key issues and focus on items to be negotiated at the Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, from 18 to 28 March 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The workshop also contained training on negotiation strategies for reaching a consensus.
In the introductory session, Mr. Rodrigo Pintado, Second Secretary from the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN, gave a comprehensive overview over the ATT process. Ms. Maritza Chan, Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN, further stressed the universal nature of a Arms Trade Treaty, calling on all delegates to work toward a compromise. As a main challenge for reaching consensus, she pointed out the contrasting interest of arms exporting and importing countries, as well as countries to which arms are diverted.
Ms. Ray Acheson, Project Director of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) discussed the articles of the July 2012 draft text that addressed human rights, humanitarian law, and gender issues. Mr. Bafetigue Ouattara, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Cote d’Ivoire to the UN, analyzed the dynamics at the 2012 ATT Conference from his perspective and that of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). For reaching consensus, he stressed the necessity of providing draft texts in all official UN languages and highlighted the important role of NGOs as essential information sources.
Mr. Brian Wood, Manager of Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights at Amnesty International, opened the session on “Possible Structure and Contents of an ATT: Scope, Elements, Principles and Parameters.” He stressed the preventive character of a possible ATT and the need to look at risk assessment. Mr. Nikolas Stuerchler Gonzenbach, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, further discussed the problematic references to human rights and humanitarian law criteria in the current draft text. Ms. Maria Butler, Project Director of Peace Women, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), focused on the link between arms trade and gender based-violence. Dr. Hectror Guerra, Network Coordinator of International Action Network on Small Arms, discussed the issue of Small Arms and Ammunition, calling for a strict regime.
H.E. Mr. Paul Beijer, Head of the Swedish Delegation to the ATT Conference, opened the workshop’s second day, and explained inter alia the need to create a better regulation not only for legal trade, but including the transit and transshipment of small arms and light weapons. Mr. Deepayan Basu Ray, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Arms Control, explained how arms purchases and conflict obstruct development. Mr. Jeff Abramson, of Control Arms and Mr. Tomoaki Ishigaki, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Japan presented strategies for monitoring and implementing the ATT.
Finally, Mr. Kenneth D. Johnson, gave delegates the opportunity to negotiate select words of the draft text and to reach a consensus. At the workshop’s conclusion one delegate remarked “The training provided an excellent overview over the issues that will be in the center of the upcoming ATT negotiations. Since I am new to the First Committee, the training was very helpful and made me feel a lot more confident with regard to my participation in the ATT Conference.”