Thank you for your able chairing of this conference. We would like to respond to your call for discussing and outlining some elements of an ATT.
Norway is a strong supporter of the ATT process. We believe that a comprehensive treaty establishing global standards for arms trade is both feasible and desirable. This is a unique opportunity for the international community to make a difference by establishing norms that may reduce human suffering resulting from illicit and poorly regulated arms trade.
We believe that a treaty on arms trade must be balanced and that it must address the concerns of both exporting and importing states. During this process, we hope to build a partnership between exporting and importing states with a view to help addressing a variety of problems generated or enhanced by the proliferation of arms and ammunition. We also hope to build a strong partnership with civil society and the NGO-community, and we look forward to their invaluable input during this process.
Time is of the essence. General Assembly resolution 64/48 stipulates that we should elaborate a treaty by 2012. In order to reach this goal, we believe it is vital that discussions on the substantive issues regarding an ATT should commence as soon as possible, and we will contribute to this by making a few comments on what substantive elements we believe should be part of an ATT.
First of all, we think it is essential that we discuss the goal of this treaty. It seems futile to discuss a new legal instrument without having a clear idea of what the aim of such an instrument is. In our view, the treaty should contribute to preventing and reducing armed violence, through better control and regulation of international arms transfers. Moreover, the goal should be reduction and/or prevention of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law through the use of conventional arms. An ATT cannot alone solve the problem of armed violence, but an ATT process which recognizes this as the underlying rationale for our work will be an important contribution to the prevention and reduction of armed violence.
The scope of application of such a treaty should be wide. The treaty should cover all aspects of international transfers, including export, import, transhipment, brokering, technologies, and related services. In our view, the treaty should apply to all conventional arms, ammunition, arms technology and related services. Our preference would be to adopt a very wide approach, covering all conventional and small arms and light weapons—as well as ammunition—unless they are explicitly exempted. We look forward to participating in a more detailed discussion on this issue.
The treaty should contain an obligation to establish a national licensing framework, to ensure that all international transfers of arms, etc. are approved by a governmental authority. International arms transfers without such a license should be illegal under national legislation.
In light of what we think should be the goal of this treaty, we think that license applications for arms transfers should be approved or rejected on case-by-case basis based on the following criteria:
- Whether the specific transfer is likely contribute to or be used for violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
- Whether there is a potential for re-export of arms to states where the specific transfer will contribute to or be used for violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
- Whether there is a risk of “diversion,” whereby conventional, and in particular, small arms and ammunition may fall into the hands of armed groups or criminals. This would cover risk of terrorist activities and armed violence by non-state groups.
Mr. Chair, Norway believes that transparency must be a key feature of an ATT. State parties must have an obligation to report publicly on all licensed international arms transfers in order to ensure transparency and accountability, thus enabling relevant actors including civil society to access information and raise public awareness on these issues.
Another element we believe is worth exploring in the context of the ATT is that of international cooperation and assistance. We think provisions on international cooperation and assistance could be an integrated part of an ATT in order to enhance implementation of the treaty obligations. States in a position to do so could for example provide technical and financial assistance, or other forms of assistance, in order to build and strengthen mechanisms for licensing, safeguards against diversion, etc.
Finally Mr. Chair, and again with the goal of the treaty in mind, Norway would also like to raise the question of assistance to persons falling victims to armed violence resulting from illicit and poorly regulated arms trade. An ATT could address the rights of victims of such violence, including their rights to adequate care and rehabilitation, as well as their social and economic inclusion.
Norway is looking forward to participating actively in this preparatory committee, and we hope that together we will be able to move the discussions toward an end result that truly will make a difference.