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Second informal consultation on Arms Trade Treaty CSP2

Jessica Lawson
29 April 2016 

On Thursday, 28 April states parties and signatories of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) met in Geneva for the second informal consultation for the second ATT Conference of States Parties (CSP2). The purpose of these informal preparatory meetings is to bring greater clarity on expectations for the CSP2. 

This meeting addressed states’ concerns about the updated CSP2 draft agenda items, the CSP2 provisional programme of work, the preparatory process timelines, and the recruitment process for the permanent head of the Secretariat. This meeting however, did not address the important issues of establishing a Voluntary Trust Fund and sponsorship programme, or the issue of reporting, as these issues are being dealt with in separate meetings hosted by Germany and Sweden respectively.

This meeting also did not deal with implementation and universalisation issues because, according to the President, those issues will be dealt with at the next informal preparatory meeting on 18 May.

Agenda issues

Some issues raised by states on the updated version of the CSP2 draft agenda include the lack of time allocated to the important issue of implementation and concerns about the potential for repetition of topics in statements made during the general debate and then in the programme.

CSP2 programme of work

Regarding the CSP2 provisional programme of work, there was some concern by states that the programme may be too rigid. Switzerland, France, and Mexico suggested that the programme be more flexible so that if there are particular topics that require more discussion, they can be addressed on a rolling basis.

CSP2 preparatory process timeline

During the session on the CSP2 preparatory process timeline, the United States, Brazil, and Thailand raised concerns over the President’s mention of conducting regional consultations. Sweden suggested that while regional consultations have practical utility, especially when the President spends a limited time in Geneva, the ATT is supposed to have a global focus and so, where possible, consultations should take a global approach.

Appointment of the Head of the Secretariat

At the ATT extraordinary meeting in February 2016, it was decided that a subcommittee would begin a merit-based recruitment process for a permanent head of the secretariat. At the second informal consultation on CSP2, the Chair of the subcommittee, Costa Rica, reported on the status of the recruitment process and said that recommendations on candidates would be made to the President during the first week of August, following the vacancy announcement, long-listing, short-listing, and interviews.  

Establishment of a Voluntary Trust Fund

Germany hosted a separate meeting on the same day for the facilitation of a Voluntary Trust Fund. Germany circulated a concept paper in advance, which the meeting went through. The paper deals with issues such as the administration and operation of the trust fund, the eligibility of beneficiaries, the relationship to UNSCAR, and finances.

Working group meeting on reporting

On 29 April, Sweden hosted a working group meeting on reporting, which mainly focused on issues concerning the provisional reporting template and organisational issues such as timelines. The working group has around 11 weeks to submit its report to the CSP2.

One issue raised during the meeting is the transparency of national annual reports. At the moment, the reporting state can tick a box to indicate whether the report may be made publicly available, but it is under no obligation to do so. Another issue raised at this meeting was the fact that of the 61 states that are required to report, only 44 have done so.

Reflections

The second informal consultation for CSP2 has again left unclear how the very important issue of Treaty implementation will be addressed, as well as the question of potential violations of the Treaty by states parties and signatories. The issue of transparency that has been raised in relation to reporting is crucial, but states must also be committed to adhering to the other obligations they made when they signed the Treaty. We look forward to the final informal consultation in May as an opportunity for states and civil society to raise these issues.