Oxfam’s Anna MacDonald reporting on the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in New York
The third week of the Diplomatic Conference was a very busy one with many bits of new text released by the Chair. Sadly, these seem to be strongly influenced by the skeptics, although it is clear that many States won’t have it. A strong statement delivered by Malawi on behalf of 74 States emphasized that “…an ATT will be judged by the strength of its criteria (and also its scope)”.
At the close of the third week there was still no complete draft treaty text and more of the negotiations have moved behind closed doors.
The draft texts are too weak, so we must ramp up pressure.
This week we hope to convince key states (i.e. France, UK and Australia) not to give away the store to please skeptics – and to grow the group of States who want a robust and effective treaty.
Here are some of the highlights of the past week:
On Monday morning campaigners greeted diplomats with postcards saying “10 days left: It’s Time to Act“.
Tuesday the world woke up to the news headlines of arms investigator Kathi Lynn Austin uncovering and stopping Viktor Bout’s lieutenants’ arms trafficking operation in Mauritius. Coverage included CNN, The Guardian, New York Times. Inside the UN, we presented diplomats with an open letter – on the back our bi-weekly Control Arms News – calling for robust criteria: that the heart of the treaty must be to prevent serious violations of international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.
Wednesday saw Amnesty International – with Control Arms support – launch a global tweet-a-thon targeting @WhiteHouse urging President Obama not to compromise on Human Rights in the negotiations. Inside the room the work of our excellent ATT Legal Team and note-taking team continued producing responses to new text, daily summaries and content to keep armstreaty.org up to date with the latest statements.
On Thursday, we used the newsletter to reiterate our positions on the Treaty’s scope. The article was accompanied by a “spot the difference” visual game, also available on Facebook, highlighting the problem of trying to make the treaties scope only cover “military” equipment.
Friday morning was perhaps the strongest action yet, when seven survivors of armed violence from the coalition distributed their own photos and stories to delegates calling for victim assistance to be included in the treaty. During the lunch hour the Oxfam-produced short film “A Short Film About Guns” was screened inside the UN to an audience of over 100 diplomats and campaigners, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmaker, Oxfam France’s executive director Luc Lampiere and two of the experts featured in the film – former child soldier Ishmael Beah and arms researcher Kathi Lynn Austin. Friday was also the day when 74 states stood up for a strong and principled treaty.
On the weekend closed sessions for official delegations were held Friday night, all day Saturday and late till 2am, plus all day Sunday. The Control Arms coalition met to plan strategy for the final week of negotiations. We will focus on securing as strong a text as possible, and work with champions to ensure that Russia, China and the small number of skeptical states (mostly in the Middle East and North Africa) are not able to weaken the text beyond repair.