After a series of preparatory meetings in Berlin, Port of Spain, Vienna, and Geneva, next week states parties and signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty as well as civil society organisations will gather in Cancún, Mexico, for the first Conference of States Parties of the Treaty.
There, states parties will need to make decisions about the secretariat, financing, rules of procedure, participation, and reporting. All are important for the effective implementation of the Treaty. But the conference also needs to establish expectations—and mechanisms—to ensure the highest possible standards for international arms transfers are achieved and maintained. To do so, some serious reflection on the state of the arms trade will be necessary.
What WILPF did
From 2006-2013 WILPF, through its Reaching Critical Will team, monitored and provided daily analysis and responses to language in draft texts of the meetings leading up to as well as the negotiation conferences themselves. WILPF advocated for a strong treaty and then, in advance of the ATT negotiations in July 2012, we teamed up with the International Action Network Against Small Arms (IANSA), Amnesty International, Religions for Peace, and others to advocate for the inclusion of specific criteria in the ATT, which should prevent arms export in cases where armed gender-based violence is likely to occur.
Throughout the process, WILPF pushed for recognition of the link between weapons and gender-based violence. With the final text of the treaty, the strengthening of the criterion of preventing gender-based violence was supported by over 100 delegations, an historic number of states.
And what WILPF still does
But we didn’t stop there. Since June 2015 four WILPF Sections, Cameroon, Colombia, Spain, and Sweden, have started projects to advance the implementation of the ATT in their countries, with a strong focus on preventing gender-based violence.
It’s a big task, which is why the Reaching Critical Will team will put their heads together with members of these four Sections before the first CSP to see how we can tackle it as WILPF and help each other use what we already know.
Want to know what’s happening?
The Reaching Critical Will team will monitor the CSP meetings and provide daily analysis and reporting – you can subscribe to the ATT Monitor here. We will also collect all documents and statements that will be circulated during the conference as well as provide real time updates on Twitter.
Also have a look at our latest publication on gender-based violence and the ATT.