Arms Trade Treaty states parties fail to address treaty violations
Last week at the Second Conference of States Parties (CSP2) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), states failed to address violations of the Treaty. Most civil society groups participating in the meeting, including WILPF, focused on the case of arms transfers from 17 states parties and two signatories to Saudi Arabia, despite its repeated breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Yemen. This is far from the only possible case of ATT violation. But it does provide what would appear to be a very good opportunity to hold states parties to account to their obligations and to shore up the Treaty’s credibility.
Yet states parties refused to address this issue. They did adopt parameters for a Voluntary Trust Fund, as well as working groups on universality, reporting, and implementation. They endorsed and recommended the use of reporting templates (though did not resolve to make them public by obligation). They appointed a permanent head of the Secretariat, adopted the budget for 2017, decided on the dates for CSP3 (11–15 September 2017), and endorsed Finland as president for CSP3 and Australia, Bulgaria, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone as vice-presidents.
These are important decisions that will help facilitate the work of the ATT. But amidst these administrative matters, there was not a single statement from governments regarding current practice and policy in terms of implementing the Treaty.
WILPF will continue to challenge the international arms trade, calling for transparency and end to violations of the Treaty and other international and domestic law. We will also continue our research on the links between arms transfers and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as well as gender-based violence.