Reflecting on the Third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 - 15 September 2017 States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty [CSP 2017] have gathered to follow up on the implementation and universalisation of the treaty. This gathering was an opportunity for critical players at global sphere to take meaningful actions to reduce human suffering. While diplomats from 106 countries and civil society organisations attended the conference, procedural matters sometimes got more unnecessary attention rather than focusing on the main issue of reducing human suffering caused by the unregulated arms trade. CPS – AVIP was represented at the conference by Nounou Booto Meeti [Programme Director] under the umbrella of the Control Arms coalition.

There is an urgent need to turn words into deeds, to prevent the irreparable harm caused when weapons fall into the wrong hands. Many states stressed the vital role of civil society in achieving the Treaty's object and purpose. However, a sad reality has been that while the world convened in Geneva to reduce human suffering caused by arms and looking for ways to implement instruments for better regulation, paradoxically held at the same time as the world’s largest arms fair in London. This act has questioned the global will to reduce human sufferings caused by the illicit and misuse of arms.

States signatory to the treaty had the opportunity during this implementation session to directly address arms sales to users that may violate human rights and international laws, but surprisingly there were no enthusiasm nor boldness to mention the issue. While some countries exporters of arms were present at the session, skepticism persists whether is there any robust ambition to regulate arms trade globally.

Many other issues need to be resolved as to how the implementation of the treaty will be useful. Issues highlighted included: General Implementation, Transit & Transhipment, Brokering and Diversion. Furthermore, the subject of how to link the Arms Trade Treaty and Sustainable Development Goals was the first thematic debate at the Conference. Many diplomats underlined in an interactive discussion, focusing mainly on the links between the Arms Trade Treaty and SDGs 16. How to achieve peace and justice which can sustain development if the trade of arms is not regulated, the treaty risk to be considered as an empty slogan from developing countries perspectives. 

Jean Claude Kabuiku / Control Arms 
CPS - AVIP / Birmingham - United Kingdom

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