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Arms Trade Treaty Update

At the 2010 PILON Annual Meeting, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) presented a background paper titled “Small Arms and Light Weapons Transfers and International Humanitarian Law”.  This was followed by a presentation by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat that covered regional responses to arms trafficking.  Following these presentations, Members agreed to support the effort of States to negotiate an International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

The ATT aims to create an international legal framework for the trade in conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons. Through regulation of the legal trade, the ATT will contribute to deterring and preventing the illicit trafficking and proliferations of arms.

During July this year the United Nations Preparatory Committee on the ATT held their 3rd of 4 meetings, in New York, to progress negotiations ahead of the United Nations Conference on the ATT scheduled for mid-2012.  From the Pacific Region, representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Fiji attended the meeting.  Representatives from the Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG) - made up of individuals and organizations from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand - also attended.
The focus of the meeting was implementation of the ATT, including international cooperation and assistance. The meeting was hailed a success and a positive step towards the adoption of an ATT. One of the outcomes was a comprehensive Chair’s Draft Paper which outlines potential elements of the ATT.

Accordingly, this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting Communique states:
 “Leaders welcomed progress by the Preparatory Committee to the United Nations Conference responsible for negotiating an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that would help deter and prevent illicit trafficking and proliferation of arms, including small arms and light weapons. Leaders also expressed support for the development of a common Forum position on an ATT and to ensure a strong and proactive voice in ATT negotiations.”
Further information on the ATT and the Preparatory Committee, including statements made by non-government organisations and States at the July meeting can be found on the Arms Trade Treaty Preparatory Committee website (here).

The next Preparatory Committee meeting is scheduled for February 2012. Submissions are welcome in accordance with relevant guidelines and States are invited to attend.  The PSAAG is also planning to host a regional small arms and light weapons workshop in February 2012 in preparation for ATT negotiations.