Arms Trade Treaty
EP calls for “urgent adoption” of UN ATT
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Wednesday 13 June 2012
Speedy negotiations and urgent adoption and entry into force of a global and comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is what the European Union should be pushing for, MEPs said in a resolution, adopted on 13 June. Ahead of the United Nations’ 2-27 July negotiating conference on an arms treaty, the European Parliament is calling on all parties to “mark a historic step forward” in the establishment of a common position on the ATT.
MEPs believe that for the treaty to be as effective as possible, it must cover “the widest possible range of activities in the trade in conventional weapons,” including import, export, transfer, manufacture under foreign licence, stockpile management and all related services, which include brokering, transportation and finance. “There should be a shared responsibility by all actors involved in arms trade,” High Representative Catherine Ashton said ahead of the vote, echoing the parliamentarians’ position.
Ashton and the MEPs also agreed that the treaty should cover the widest possible spectrum of conventional weapons and ammunitions, and not just major military systems. “Transfers of large quantities of small arms can have a much more destabilising effect than the transfer of a limited number of large military vehicles,” Ashton explained.
In its reply to the UN secretary-general’s request for views on the elements of the ATT - seen by
Europolitics - the EU is demanding that the treaty cover all conventional weapons and systems, “including small arms and light weapons and munitions”.
However, while the EU has agreed on a common position ahead of the conference, Ashton warns member states that “the unity and coherence of the EU as a bloc will be put under pressure during the negotiations”.
MEPs argued that an ATT is needed because a “poorly regulated, uncontrolled and opaque arms trade leads to irresponsible trading in weapons [and] has caused unnecessary human suffering, fuelled armed conflicts, instability and terrorist attacks”. The lack of a transparent arms trade also “undermined peace-building processes, good governance and socio-economic development and led to the overthrow of democratically elected governments and the violation of the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law”.
According to a new report by Oxfam, the poorly regulated global trade in arms and ammunition “weakens the ability of governments to sustain progress in development, both by fuelling and exacerbating conflicts and armed violence, and by diverting resources away from poverty reduction activities”. In 2010, 7% of all arms sales were made by fragile and conflict-affected states. According to the US Congressional Research Service, the estimated global value of agreements on arms transfers to developing countries, in 2010, was US$40.3 billion, and the value of deliveries was US$34.9 billion.