The “Not so” Extraordinary Meeting of the Arms Trade Treaty
IPPNW’s Dr. Bob Mtonga participated in a February 29th “Extraordinary Meeting” of states parties and observers to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that turned out to be quite ordinary.
The meeting was convened to discuss organizational issues including proposals for the administrative arrangements of the Secretariat, its structure, location, funding and confirmation of staffing positions, as well as cost estimates and location of the 2nd Conference of States Parties to the ATT (CSP2), to be held at the World Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland from 22–26 August 2016.
The Extra-ordinary Meeting however missed an opportunity to consider substantive items – such as possible violations of the Treaty by States Parties, including continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
The Control Arms Coalition, of which IPPNW is an active member, requested to table its report on arms transfers to Saudi Arabia that have been made by ATT States parties and signatories. Saudi Arabia has been found by a United Nations investigation to have engaged in “widespread and systematic attacks on civilian targets” in its use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Yemen.”
According to a report by Reaching Critical Will, “The President’s response, however, was that the agenda was ‘loaded’ and to introduce such an item without the adequate time to discuss it properly, ‘will be fraught with danger.’ He instead suggested raising it during CSP2 under implementation of the ATT.” He proposed tabling the report at other opportunities in future or at the CSP2.
“I was beyond measure perplexed when the Chair of the meeting blatantly refused to table the Control Arms report detailing violations by States Parties to the ATT that are perpetrating human suffering in Yemen,” said Dr. Mtonga.
A UN panel of experts found in January that over 119 airstrikes made by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had violated international humanitarian law. The report indicates that “the coalition had conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects, in violation of international humanitarian law, including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana’a, the port in Hudaydah and domestic transit routes.”
This was outlined in a new ATT Monitor Case Study “Dealing in Double : How Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia are Causing Human Suffering in Yemen”. “The continuing transfer of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2015, given the Yemen crisis, shows that a number of States Parties are not meeting their legal obligations under the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). In this Case Study, ATT Monitor outlines the context into which arms are being transferred and provides an illustrative summary of the arms transfers taking place between ATT States Parties and Signatories and Saudi Arabia.” Read the report here.
Read Reaching Critical Will’s report on the extraordinary meeting
Read the extraordinary meetings’ draft Final Report.