Norway is among the overwhelming majority of UN member states that attaches great importance to the development of a comprehensive and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty. Establishing a high common international standard for the import, export and transfers of conventional weapons and ammunition is important, and the substantial work should start as soon as possible. An ATT will and must be a valuable tool in addressing the immense challenges connected to the worldwide transfer of weapons and ammunitions we see today.
Violence caused by the use of conventional arms, its causes and consequences, is also a problem closely linked to lack of development. Armed violence is widely recognized to be a major obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. People living in fear for their lives and with high levels of insecurity can not plan their futures and build sustainable communities. Societies burdened with war and armed conflict is on average poorer than peaceful communities. And poverty hampers development. According to the UNDP more than 2 million people are killed or maimed for life every year because of the use of conventional weapons. A vast majority of these are civilians. They have a right to protection. Conventional arms in the wrong hands pose a significant threat to security of states, communities and indviduals. The severe impact on public health is increasingly documented by organsiations like the WHO. The environmental impact would also be of potential serious concern.
A new strong ATT would be a major contribution to tackling the uncontrolled proliferation of conventional weapons. We believe that such a treaty is both feasible and necessary in order to provide common international standards and transparency in the trade in conventional weapons and ammunition.
We are convinced that the undertaking of developing a legally binding commitment to observe commonly agreed standards, consistent with existing responsibilities of states under relevant international law, including the highest standards of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations are core elements for the creation of such an instrument.
The strong support for the resolutions at the General Assembly demonstrates the international acceptance of the need to start negotiating a legally binding instrument regulating the global trade of conventional arms. We are of course committed to play an active and constructive role in the work of the Open-ended Working Group established through the resolution 63/240.
The irresponsible proliferation of conventional weapons clearly requires action by the whole international community. Reports indicate that worldwide there are already more than 76 million small arms and light weapons in existing stockpiles. This illustrates the urgency of pursuing one of the main objectives of a global ATT; to prevent irresponsible arms transfers by adopting common international standards for, export, import and transfer of conventional arms.
The fight against the illicit trade in ammunition continues to be an urgent task inseparable from the weapons themselves. Uncontrolled stocks of ammunition contribute to the risk of trafficking and proliferation thereby possibly prolong and intensify armed conflicts.
Transparency in the field of conventional weapons is a key component for combatting the uncontrolled dissemination of such weapons and for promoting an atmosphere of trust and security.
We welcome the participation and engagement of civil society, humanitarian and human right s organisations and their contributions to describe and document the consequences of irresponsible proliferation of conventional weapons on the population. To raise awareness, promote discussion and facilitate the exchange of views among all stakeholders are valuable and important contributions we welcome. The hard earned experience of affected states and societies would also be in our view important elements in guiding us to an end result which would achieve a credible and valuable result.
We have now taken an important step forward. The road ahead will be challenging and will demand our continued commitment and involvement. We are ready to start the substantial work in the expert group in accordance with the mandate. In identifying where consensus could be developed to start building the base of a future instrument we will work to promote the highest possible standard and ambition for future negotiations.