First Committee of the 69th Session of the General Assembly- 14 October 2014
The topic of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was discussed by delegations from Afghanistan, Argentina, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), El Salvador, Eritrea, Myanmar, Portugal and Sweden, in addition to representatives from Holy See and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on 14 October 2014.
Concerns that arise from the unregulated circulation and spread of SALW was addressed by DRC, Eritrea, El Salvador, Sweden, Holy See, ICRC, and Afghanistan. Eritrea stressed that destruction and instability are key consequences of the unregulated trade in conventional arms, while El Salvador, ICRC and Holy See stated that the proliferation of SALW fuels and prolongs conflict and endangers progress in international human rights law, humanitarian law and development. Holy See noted that financial greed fuels arms sales and in turn arms sales fuel conflict that cause untold sufferings and violations of human rights. Sweden also acknowledged that such illicit spread of SALW throughout the world is the biggest threat to humanity. Afghanistan made particular note that SALW is the main destabilizing factor in its country and the use of SALW by terrorist groups fuel a cycle of violence.
Eritrea and Afghanistan underlined the importance of the UNPoA in combating the illicit proliferation and circulation of SALW. Both delegations welcomed the outcome document of the BMS5 on the UNPoA, with Eritrea reiterating that it is the primary responsibility of States to combat and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW. Afghanistan noted that despite progress made in regulating the manufacture, trade, transit and circulation of SALW, greater international cooperation and assistance is needed in order to address challenges that arise from the illicit circulation and uncontrolled spread of these weapons in many regions of the world, particularly in conflict and post conflict situations.
The adoption of the ATT and its entry into force on 24 December 2014 was welcomed by DRC, Argentina, El Salvador, Sweden, Portugal and ICRC.
Sweden attached great importance to the wide adherence and effective implementation of the ATT, while Portugal stressed its confidence that the ATTs’ strong, transparent and effective implementation will valuably contribute to fostering peace and security as well as having important humanitarian impacts. Argentina and Portugal underlined that the treaty will also foster dialogue and confidence building between all relevant national, regional and international actors involved in arms control. Both delegations further stressed the importance of multilateralism in curbing the unregulated trade of arms and noted that political will is vital for development.
Argentina and ICRC acknowledged that the treaty prevents arms falling into the hands of individuals or groups who use these weapons to violate international human rights law. ICRC reminded all arms exporting States, even those not bound by existing instruments regulating arms transfers, to refrain from transferring weapons to warring parties that are using, or at risk of using, such weapons to carry out war crimes.
Sweden underscored the importance of the ATT and its provisions relating to gender-based violence but added that much more needed to be done to reduce and eliminate gender-based violence in armed conflicts.
Argentina endorsed Trinidad and Tobago to host the ATT Secretariat, while Sweden nominated Ambassador Paul Beijer as Head of the ATT Secretariat.