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Governments establish new negotiating conference for an arms trade treaty

The First Committee of the UN General Assembly has recommended the dates for the next (and hopefully final) negotiations for the arms trade treaty (ATT). At the initial negotiating conference in July 2012, governments failed to reach consensus on a draft treaty that would have established legally-binding regulations for the international trade in conventional arms. The next conference will be held from 18 to 28 March 2013 in New York and will operate on the basis of consensus. The General Assembly will take final action on this resolution on 24 December 2012.

In First Committee, governments adopted the resolution establishing this conference with a vote of 157-0-18. A few delegations expressed opposition to treating the latest version of the President’s text from July as the sole basis for negotiations, including Belarus, Egypt, Iran, Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Syria. Several delegations also complained about current loopholes in the draft text, while others expressed concern that the resolution extends the rule of consensus to the next round of negotiations. In July, the majority of countries worked for a strong treaty, but a small number of governments with political or economic interests against regulating the international arms trade managed to water down the draft text significantly and then refused to accept the weakened treaty at the end of the month.

WILPF has advocated for a robust and comprehensive ATT that reduces and prevents armed conflict and armed violence, including gender-based violence. The world needs an ATT that does not make the arms trade easier but rather that ensures the most robust, transparent rules possible in order to have a significant impact on preventing human suffering. Reaching Critical Will has monitored and provided analysis and advocacy throughout the ATT process. We will continue to provide materials and analysis in the lead up to the final negotiations in March 2013 and will monitor the negotiations during the conference.