Requirements for a strong and robust ATT


Why we need an ATT

The ATT is necessary because the world needs very clear common standards defining when international arms transfers should be prevented so that they do not shatter lives and destroy livelihoods .


  • We need a global instrument because we need to create the highest global standards on arms trading.
  • We need an ATT because we need strong national controls around the world.
  • And we need an ATT because we need clarity on what is the legal trade consistent with international law. 

The ATT process is like building a house for the international community to protect its people. A house fit for the world's peoples to call home must be built with sound materials, and on solid foundations. So the ATT will be a house built on the firm foundations that States have already laid – their existing obligations under international law and global norms. These must now be applied to arms transfers.


This year's ATT resolution calls for the “highest possible common international standards”. These must require States to apply a rigorous risk assessment to prevent international arms transfers likely to be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. 


Similarly, arms must not be transferred if they are likely to seriously undermine sustainable development, involve corruption, or fuel pervasive armed violence - impacts described this week by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco and others.


These are non-discriminatory standards already established in laws and norms to which all UN Member States have agreed. International human rights and humanitarian law are objectively defined through the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and numerous other instruments. Reducing poverty and preventing armed crime are also goals agreed in existing global norms such as the Millennium Development Goals and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms. 


An effective ATT must also help to stop arms reaching terrorists and armed

criminals. This is sometimes a consequence of poor risk assessment at the point of export, which would be remedied under an ATT. It is also sometimes the result of intentional supply - a breach of States' legal obligations which would be explicitly prohibited by an ATT.


As Senegal and others have pointed out, an effective ATT would be capable of controlling ALL KINDS OF WEAPONS, munitions and equipment actually used to harm rights, lives and livelihoods. 


And as Jamaica eloquently described, international arms transfers take a variety of forms, and move across borders in different ways. To avoid creating loopholes exploited by arms dealers, a robust ATT would include ALL types of transfers, including imports, exports, re-exports, transhipment, temporary transfers, gifts and aid – by both states and commercial actors.


France and others have underlined this week that an effective Arms Trade Treaty must provide a framework for international cooperation and support, to help States to fulfil their Treaty obligations.


This is the ATT we need. Any other ATT will be insufficient. However, several states - including Germany, Norway, Mexico, New Zealand and others - have pointed out a visible obstacle to this goal on the horizon: the possibility of consensus being used – and abused – during the ATT negotiating conference in 2012.


Of course, the very basis of the UN system rests on always striving for consensus, so every decision is as legitimate and inclusive as possible. Consensus is the ideal for us all, states and NGOs alike. We welcome the promise of a truly universal instrument. Such promise, however, should not be betrayed. It must not result in a weak treaty text that is acceptable to all states but will make none of their citizens safer. No states should tolerate the abuse of consensus – in a manner that every state has veto power and the ability to block negotiations. 


Lastly, allow me to refer back to the shared house. Whom are we building it for? I’m reminded by someone who once said that “no state should veer away from the reasons of its being and existence - and that is championing the rights of those who are weak, poor or disadvantaged.”  If the Arms Trade Treaty is to be truly credible and effective, these principles are the foundations upon which it must rest. 


Alfredo Ferrariz Lubang,  

Nonviolence International Southeast Asia, Member of the Arms Trade Treaty Steering Committee & the Control Arms Campaign

NGO Presentation 23 October 2009, UN First Committee 2009.


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