United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)
- Overview and Assessment -
July 27, 2012
Conventional Arms Division
From July 2 to 27, the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was held in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan, Former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Republic served as President, and representatives attending from Japan included Mr. Joe Nakano, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs (chief representative), Mr. Yoshiya Muto, Deputy Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, and Mr. Mitsuhiro Kohno, Director, Conventional Arms Division (Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department).
1. Overview of the Conference
(1) The Conference was held in order to carry out negotiations on an international agreement that will stipulate high-level common international standards concerning transfers such as the import and export of conventional arms, based on a 2009 United Nations General Assembly resolution that was proposed by seven countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
(2) At the Conference, a high-level segment was held on July 3, and ministerial level delegation leaders of three countries, including Parliamentary Vice-Minister Nakano, made statements.
(3) During the first week, it took time to reach an agreement concerning the program of work for the Conference, but from the second week onward the Conference proceeded back on track. The negotiations began for the most part in two Main Committees. Main Committee 1 examined the elements of the treaty including the "preamble and principles", "goals and objectives", and "criteria", and Main Committee 2 examined the "scope (weapons and activities subject to the treaty) ", "implementation of the treaty", and "final provisions".
(4) During the negotiations, there were significant differences in standpoints and views amongst the countries, concerning what elements should be included in the ATT, therefore, the work to achieve a consensus was not easy. Thus, negotiations started on July 19 and intensified as the participants made use of every opportunity, including nights and weekends, to continue their work. The presentation of the draft text of the treaty by President Moritan took place during the fourth and final week, on July 24, and the presentation of the revised text was delayed to July 26, just one day before the end of the conference. The discussions continued under such time constraints with the aim of adopting a text, but it was not possible to reach a consensus before the Conference ended.
(1) For Japan, which has led ATT negotiations for six years, it was unfortunate that the adoption of the treaty text could not be achieved at this Conference. Nevertheless, we are of the view that the international community is moving in the direction of adopting an Arms Trade Treaty.
(2) Japan's standpoint is that every country should avoid exacerbating international conflicts and that the international community should create an effective international agreement with the widest number of parties possible. From this standpoint, Japan proactively participated in the negotiations at this Conference as a vice-President country elected from the Asia region and as a co-sponsor country of 2009 United Nations General Assembly resolution. During the high-level segment at the start of the Conference, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Nakano made a strong appeal for the creation of a robust and universal ATT. During the process of concrete negotiations as well, the representatives from Japan put forth various proposals while collaborating with the other ATT supporting countries and NGOs, and they proactively engaged in dialogues with the countries of Southeast Asia and countries taking a cautious approach to the ATT. Japan thus greatly contributed to the process of creating the draft treaty text.
(3) Although it was not possible to reach an agreement on the draft treaty text at the Conference, based on the results of the negotiations, Japan intends to continue to collaborate with other countries and work proactively with a view toward achieving the adoption of an ATT.
(*The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original version in Japanese.)
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