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ICRC statements on scope of weapons and transactions in an Arms Trade Treaty – 1st Preparatory Committee session, July 2010

20-07-2010 Statement

During the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Preparatory Committee session held at UN headquarters in New York in July 2010, the ICRC delivered two statements on the scope of weapons and transactions in an ATT.

 Elements on scope of an Arms Trade Treaty, statement by the ICRC, 14 July 2010  

    

The International Committee of the Red Cross would like to contribute to this discussion by highlighting some elements on scope that we consider indispensable for an Arms Trade Treaty to be truly effective.

 Scope of weapons and transactions  

    

In the view of the ICRC, the scope of weapons and transactions covered by an Arms Trade Treaty should be a function of its object and purpose.lf the object and purpose is to reduce the human cost of the poorly regulated, global trade of weapons, then it is difficult to imagine any particular conventional weapon or type of transfer that would not entail a risk to the Convention's object and purpose and that would not require regulation.

As stated previously, the question shouldn't be which conventional weapons should be included in an Arms Trade Treaty but which, if any, should not be included. Any argument that a specific type of weapons should be excluded should be based on evidence that its exclusion would not undermine the goals and objectives of the ATT. lf the objectives are as broad as what was discussed these past three days, namely the promotion of international humanitarian law and human rights law and the promotion of peace and security, then it is hard to identify any conventional weapo ns that would not be relevant.

The view of the ICRC is that all conventional weapons, including small ams and light weapons, and ammunitions should be included in the scope of an Arms Trade Treaty.

An Arms Trade Treaty that aims to reduce human suffering should therefore cover all types of transfers of all conventional arms. This is consistent with UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48, which calls for the elaboration of a " legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. " The Resolution notably does not limit itself to certain types of conventional weapons or to certain types of transfers.

We would like to recall, as we stated previously, that the ICRC believes that the scope of an ATT should include all transfers in conventional arms, as defined in existing international instruments, as well as brokering activities.

Finally, the ICRC hopes that this Preparatory Committee will continue to facilitate structured and in-depth discussions of the elements needed to attain a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that contains the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. We look forward to commenting in further detail in the context of such discussions.

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 Statement of the ICRC on Scope of Weapons and Transactions, July 20 2010  

The ICRC has already made a general statement on the scope of weapons and transactions to be covered under an Arms Trade Treaty . We a ppreciate this second opportunity to put forward a few additional points on the topic of scope.

The departure point in an ATT should be the language of UN GA resolution 64/48, which calls for the highest possible standards for the transfer of conventional arms and does not limit itself to certain types of weapons or transactions.

Conventional weapons can, at minimum, be defined by what they are not: they are not nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Basing the scope of an ATT on an overly narrow list of conventional weapons could undermine the humanitarian objective of an ATT. With this in mind, the question shouldn’t be which conventional weapons should be included in an Arms Trade Treaty but which, if any, should be excluded. This approach does not preclude national export control agencies from drawing weapons lists as tools for their work.

We would also like to recall that the ICRC believes that the scope of an ATT should include all transfers, which are already defined in existing international instruments. For example, States could consider the definition found in Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: transfer involves, in addition to the physical movement into or from national territory, the transfer of title to and control over the weapons, but does not involve the transfer of territory containing the weapons.

An ATT should also regulate conventional arms and ammunition brokering and closely associated activities, as defined by the Group of Governmental Experts’ 2007 report. Authorization of brokering and closely associated activities should be based on the same criteria as those applicable to arms transfers.