Towards an Arms Trade Treaty

23/07/2010 // Today the first preparatory talks on negotiating an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) concluded at the United Nations in New York. Norway is working for an agreement that can prevent violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by requiring states to have stringent rules for the trading in arms.

Photo: UN Photo/P Sudhakaran

Photo: UN Photo/P Sudhakaran

“Every day 2,000 people die from armed violence. Only an agreement that requires states to implement strict criteria for dealing in arms, is acceptable to Norway,” said State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gry Larsen.

The Norwegian delegation to the ATT-talks have registered an increased commitment from several countries during the meetings. The pace was also higher than many expected. This may be because countries affected by illegal, irresponsible and poorly regulated arms trade have said they expect a strong agreement. It is expected that the next round of negotiations in February 2011 will be characterized by a more detailed discussion on what an international arms trade treaty should contain.

“An Arms Trade Treaty raises issues that are very sensitive to many countries and many fear that an agreement will prevent them from obtaining the weapons they need to cover their legitimate defence needs. It is therefore important that we stay focused on the main goal, namely to tie the Treaty to the specific demand that weapons not be used to violate human rights,” said Gry Larsen.

The UN General Assembly last fall agreed on a mandate to negotiate an arms deal. The mandate provides for several rounds of negotiations over the next two years, which will culminate with a diplomatic conference in 2012. If an agreement is reached, it will be the first time a legally binding agreement for the regulation of conventional weapons has been agreed at the global level.

Civil society has an important role to play in the process towards an Arms Trade Treaty. Norway thinks it is unfortunate that civil society was excluded from parts of the meetings that took place in New York.

Source: Norway-Mission to the UN

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