Preparatory Committee for the Arms Trade Treaty

2/28/2011 // The second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)negotiating conference got underway this week. Norway's statement was presented by Ambassador Terje Hauge from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Chair,

Let me start by thanking you for your efforts and endeavours towards creating an efficient and broad ranging ATT that hopefully will represent the beginning of a new era in the work of regulating trade in arms.

The Norwegian delegation would also like to thank you for providing us with the three papers on scope, criteria or parameters and international cooperation and assistance. We have studied them with interest. We have comments and suggestions on them all. We will, as suggested in the program, concentrate on scope.

However, let me initially make a brief comment on the goal of the ATT as seen from our perspective, since the goal in our view has consequences for the scope of the treaty. Norway has a humanitarian perspective on the ATT.
This is also reflected in our view on what the goal of the treaty should be: The overall goal of the ATT should be, through regulation of all international arms trade, to prevent illicit or irresponsible arms trade that causes human suffering and armed violence, including violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

This is also our guiding principle concerning the scope of the treaty. Our starting point is therefore that the ATT should capture all conventional weapons, including ammunition, unless explicitly excluded. Any exclusions should be linked to the goal of the ATT and be based on humanitarian arguments. With that as the basis it would be possible to look into whether certain weapons could be excluded from the scope. In the light of this, we question the proposal to exclude sports and hunting weapons for example.
One category which in the view of this delegation should definitely not be excluded is ammunition. We believe that most delegations would share the view that from a humanitarian perspective ammunition is at the core of today’s global armed violence problems. Together with small arms and light weapons they constitute what many describe as the weapons of mass destruction in today’s world. We are therefore pleased to see that ammunition is covered in the chair’s scope paper.

Approximately 2000 people are killed every day in armed violence – which amounts to approximately 750.000 annually – and most of them, approximately 85%, by small arms and light weapons that of course would be useless without ammunition. A treaty that does not capture ammunition would therefore loose much of its value.

Ammunition differs from other arms due to the large quantities that are produced, exported and also used, industrially also by its large-scale production. This should not, however, create problems in including ammunition in the scope of arms that requires licensing and are subject to assessment under the criteria for export that we will have in an ATT. Many countries already do so.

The quantities and other features inherent in ammunition could perhaps constitute certain practical challenges concerning reporting and other implementation requirements. But this is a separate question from the export licensing question. We see these as mostly practical and bureaucratic challenges that we should solve in a pragmatic manner.

Mr. Chair,

Let me revert to the scope paper. Allow me to make some comments and pose some questions. The paper contains a generic list of objects and transactions and activities that should be covered by the treaty, and some exceptions, and then two annexes with definitions of the items. We wonder what the relationship between the generic lists and the annexes is.
There are two areas of scope: the scope with regard to objects to be covered, and scope with regard to activities to be regulated.

With regard to objects: In the annex, calibres are specified, which, if the annex is meant to define the overall scope of conventional arms covered by the treaty, creates exclusions in addition to the exclusions mentioned in the generic list. What is the reason for this?

Since our point of departure is that all conventional weapons are included unless explicitly excluded, we do not see the need for specific calibre limitations for items that would be subject to the licensing criteria. We would prefer a solution that simply requires that ammunition for any of the types of weapons covered are also covered by the scope provisions. This is the system under the Norwegian export control regime, which functions well.

Explosives was discussed during the prep.com. in New York last July. We regret that is presently not included. We think that explosives for military use should be covered by the treaty since they belong to the family of conventional arms in our view, and are often causing considerable human suffering in armed conflicts and other armed violence circumstances. Excluding them would create a considerable and problematic loophole in the treaty. 

Mr. Chair,

Let me address scope with regard to activities:
Annex B of the paper lists various activities (or transactions). Our questions pertain mainly to the term “transfer” – which appears to be used both as the overall/general term for several activities, but also as a specific form of activity in itself. This leads to the result that several activities, for example import and export, in fact are mentioned twice – both as individual alternatives and as examples of “transfer”. In addition, the actual description of “transfer” (physical movement across borders and transfer of title”) in fact constitutes export and import.

The term “transfer” also appears in the conventions on anti personnel mines and cluster munitions. In these treaties, the term includes transfer of title as well as physical movement across borders of the relevant objects. Both of these conventions, however, ban transfer. In the ATT, none of the mentioned activities will be banned. Importing definitions into the ATT that have been created in other contexts may generate unforeseen challenges.

In order to avoid unnecessary confusion, we think that the term “transfer” should be used as the generic term, covering all of the various activities or transactions under the ATT. “Transfer” should not be given an additional, separate definition. The provision on the scope of activities could start by saying that “in this Convention, “transfer” shall mean the following:..” and then produce the list of activities.

Not all of the activities listed in the annex are defined as transfer. While for example import and export and transhipment are mentioned as examples of “transfer”, brokering and leasing are not. This has the effect of exempting the latter categories from the national licensing requirements under point B and C where only the term “transfer” is used. 

Mr Chair, 

One main objective of an ATT is to ensure that all arms trade is subject to national assessment before license is granted. We are unsure of the logic behind listing activities that are not in this category, When it comes to brokering, technology transfer, manufacture under foreign license, leases, loans, gifts, technical assistance and research and development, we think that all of these activities should be subject to national licensing and subject to the same criteria as export etc.

We also have a question regarding the definitions of import and export. Export, according to the paper, involves both transfer of title and control as well as physical movement across a border, whereas import only involves the physical movement of arms into a State’s territory. We see a difficulty with this approach. The present definition of import would in fact cover any movement of arms across a border, including supplies of weapons and ammunition to troops on international military assignments abroad, (notwithstanding that there is a reference to such exemptions under the definition of “transfer”).

The same appears to be the case for “temporary transfer” and “transit”. We think there should be a general exception for such movement of arms and ammunition as not being subject to the provisions of the ATT. Equipment and supplies for a State’s own troops abroad is not trade.

We are in any event not convinced that import should be on the list of activities with regard to licensing. Even if import should be covered in some form under the ATT, it should perhaps be separated from the activities that are to be subject to national licensing – we are uncertain of the value of requiring States to assess whether their own weapons purchases might lead to human rights violations or instability.

Mr. Chair,

We are now entering in to the crucial discussions on core elements of a future ATT. We look forward to actively participate in the work ahead with the clear objective of delivering a strong and robust ATT. 


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