Arms Trade Treaty makes deals more transparent

Cath­er­ine Ash­ton

Today the inter­na­tion­al trade in weap­ons in one of the least reg­u­lat­ed sec­tors of inter­na­tion­al com­merce. Arma­ments can be eas­i­ly divert­ed to the ille­gal mar­ket, fuel con­flicts, be used in seri­ous vio­la­tions of human rights and inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­ian law, and con­trib­ute to inter­na­tion­al crime and ter­ror­ism. Weap­ons that fall into the wrong hands can have a dev­as­tat­ing effect on region­al and inter­na­tion­al peace and secu­ri­ty. Inter­na­tion­al action is urgent­ly need­ed to address this.

Today the inter­na­tion­al trade in weap­ons in one of the least reg­u­lat­ed sec­tors of inter­na­tion­al com­merce. Arma­ments can be eas­i­ly divert­ed to the ille­gal mar­ket, fuel con­flicts, be used in seri­ous vio­la­tions of human rights and inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­ian law, and con­trib­ute to inter­na­tion­al crime and ter­ror­ism. Weap­ons that fall into the wrong hands can have a dev­as­tat­ing effect on region­al and inter­na­tion­al peace and secu­ri­ty. Inter­na­tion­al action is urgent­ly need­ed to address this.
Through the nego­ti­a­tion of a legal­ly bind­ing Arms Trade Trea­ty, we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see the highest pos­si­ble stand­ards to reg­u­late inter­na­tion­al trade in arms. Such a Trea­ty will make trade in arms more trans­par­ent, more account­a­ble, and pre­vent the diver­sion of weap­ons.
The EU has been at the fore­front of this ini­ti­a­tive since its out­set. We strong­ly believe that the Arms Trade Trea­ty has the poten­tial to improve the lives and secu­ri­ty con­di­tions of hun­dred of thou­sands around the world by ensur­ing that weap­ons are trad­ed in the most respon­si­ble way.
The Euro­pe­an Par­lia­ment has played a major role in this cam­paign. Your first res­o­lu­tion adopt­ed in 2007 at the out­set of the proc­ess helped to gain polit­i­cal momen­tum in sup­port of the ATT ini­ti­a­tive. Wel­come today the adop­tion of a new EP res­o­lu­tion a head of the UN Con­fer­ence in July where the Trea­ty will be nego­ti­at­ed.
This is a col­lect­ive effort. EU For­eign Min­is­ters will also agree in June 2012 on com­pre­hen­sive Coun­cil Con­clu­sions on the ATT, set­ting the EU pri­or­i­ties for the nego­ti­at­ing Con­fer­ence. To have a real impact on the way arms are trad­ed at inter­na­tion­al lev­el, we need to make sure that the ATT we will nego­ti­ate in the UN will be as strong and robust as pos­si­ble.
The Trea­ty should make sure that not only exports of weap­ons, but also trans­it, tran­ship­ment, and bro­ker­ing, are con­trolled. Sim­i­lar­ly, we should make sure that all types of con­ven­tion­al weap­ons are con­trolled, and not only major mil­i­tary sys­tems. Trans­fers of large quan­ti­ties of small arms can have a much more desta­bil­iz­ing effect than the trans­fer of a lim­it­ed num­ber of large mil­i­tary vehi­cles.
An ATT should also include a cred­i­ble imple­men­ta­tion mech­a­nism, requir­ing States Par­ties to set in place nation­al con­trol sys­tems to con­trol trans­fer of weap­ons and to penal­ize trans­fers that have not been prop­er­ly author­ized.
Final­ly, the Trea­ty should con­tain cred­i­ble and clear trans­par­en­cy mech­a­nism to increase account­a­bil­i­ty in the glob­al arms trade. (con­cise)
Speech by Cath­er­ine Ash­ton, EU High Rep­re­sent­a­tive for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion, Euro­pe­an Par­lia­ment, Stras­bourg, 12 June 2012.

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