First Committee of the 69th session of the General Assembly- 23 October 2014

The last day of the thematic debate on the topic of conventional weapons saw the following delegations speak on small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Algeria, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Georgia, Guatemala, Ireland, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Mozambique, Mexico,  Russian Federation, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom (UK). 

UNPoA

A large proportion of delegations addressed the importance of the UN Programme of Action (UNPoA) in combating the illicit trade and trafficking of SALW. Singapore, Bulgaria, Sweden and Ecuador specifically noted that the instrument is a key tool and main international forum for combating the illicit trade in SALW. Jamaica, Turkey and Botswana emphasized the importance of the full implementation of the UNPoA, while Kenya underscored the need for effective international cooperation and assistance in implementing the instrument. Further, Singapore noted that multilateralism is key in the implementation process.

Jamaica, Singapore, Sweden, Eritrea, UK, Ireland, Botswana, Thailand and Kenya supported the outcome document of the 5th Biennial Meeting of States (BMS5) on the UNPoA and reaffirmed their commitment to the instrument. Jamaica made specific note of the provision in the outcome document on the participation of women in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control processes. Guatemala, on its part, addressed its concerns with the lack of progress made at BMS5, underlining that the exclusion of ammunition is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Jamaica further stated that it is critical to future efforts that a legally binding instrument on marking and tracing for SALW be developed, and that the incorporation of ammunition in the UNPoA, issues of brokering, border controls and consideration of the complementarities between the PoA and the ATT be addressed.

Jamaica, Singapore, Ecuador and Algeria also emphasized the importance of the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) in the fight against the illicit trade of arms. The Security Council Resolution 2117 on SALW was acknowledged by Turkey and Kenya.

ATT

The majority of delegations welcomed the adoption of the ATT and supported its entry into force at the end of this year. Jamaica stated that the treaty is of single importance while Bulgaria expressed that the treaty will fill in serious gaps related to curbing the illicit trade in arms.

Jamaica, Bulgaria and Chad underlined the importance of full implementation of the treaty while Eritrea, UK, Ecuador and Czech Republic emphasized the need for effective universalization of the treaty.  Ecuador also underscored the need for implementation of the ATT to be balanced so that the sovereign rights of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import, and retain arms for their self-defense and security needs, in addition to their rights to non-interference and territorial integrity are not affected.

Sweden and Ireland welcomed the provision of gender-based violence in the ATT. Sweden emphasized that the treaty can contribute to limiting the availability of arms in areas where there is a serious risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence.

Bosnia and Herzegovina underlined the provisions of Article 6 of the ATT, which forbids any transfer of conventional arms if State Party has the knowledge that the arms would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such. It further noted Article 7 which prohibits transfers of arms, if there is an overriding risk that the weapons can be used to undermine peace and security or commit a serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Islamic Republic of Iran, on its part, stated that the ATT failed to meet its expectations for an effective, robust, and balanced treaty. It noted that the treaty is full of legal flaws, loopholes and other deficiencies.

Guatemala endorsed Trinidad and Tobago to host the Secretariat of the ATT, while Sweden nominated Ambassador Paul Beijer as candidate to the post of Head of the future Secretariat.