On 24-27 August 2015 the first Conference of States Parties (CSP1) of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) took place in Cancun, Mexico. WILPF monitored its discussions and developments, which can be found in more detail in the daily ATT Monitor produced by WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will (RCW).
Getting in the mood
The RCW team joined forces with WILPF members coming from our Sections in Cameroon, Colombia, Spain, and Sweden for a brainstorming session on the weekend before the conference. On Saturday, the RCW team and the four WILPF Sections went through the history of ATT negotiations, reviewed the text of the Treaty, compared the differences in obligations for importing, exporting, and transit states, and discussed the possible implications of the Treaty for advancing towards peace, disarmament, and demilitarisation. We also brainstormed how best to use the ATT in the four Sections for their advocacy for peace.
On Sunday we joined the rest of the civil society attending the conference to discuss what issues would be most important for CSP1 and how civil society planned to keep states on their toes.
Decisions, decisions, decisions
During CSP1 many issues left pending in the last preparatory meeting in Geneva were tackled. Apart from the very time-consuming decision on the future location of the Secretariat, many other important decisions needed to be taken in Cancun.
States needed to take fundamental decisions concerning the rules of procedures, financing, and transparency. All these issues will have a great impact on the implementation of the Treaty and on its effectiveness in reducing human suffering as it is envisioned in the preamble. In particular, matters of transparency and reporting are crucial and can either enhance or hinder compliance with and implementation of the Treaty.
Pick and choose
Unfortunately, the provisional reporting templates that were developed before CSP1 are problematic. It was good that states only “took note of” these provisional templates rather than adopting them. Concerned states and most of civil society think the provisional templates are inadequate to provide effective reporting, as they provide states with the option to not to report on arms transfers in case of concerns linked to ‘‘commercial sensitivity’’ or “national security” without providing any explanation of why they decided not to disclose this information. Additionally, states are not required to disclose their reports to the public. In other words, civil society and international and regional organisations will not be able to access key information to define trends and future challenges for the Treaty’s implementation or in the arms trade.
Only the beginning
Overall, many decisions were taken in Cancun, but we should not forget that this is just the beginning of a long process of implementation, rich of challenges in which civil society can and must play a fundamental role.
To read up on the ATT process and WIPLF’s role in the negotiations, be sure to have a look here. You can find all documents and statements of the conference as well as our daily analysis and reporting on the Reaching Critical Will website.
Also have a look at our latest publication on gender-based violence and the ATT.