Yesterday in Mexico City global arms control and disarmament diplomats and civil society groups finished up first-round talks on creating a road map to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Conference of States Parties. This meeting was the first of three informal negotiating / lobbying events on the horizon. Germany has offered to host a second round of meetings in November, and Switzerland has offered to host the last round in 2015.
All this planning and preparation is in anticipation of the ATT gaining, by January 2015, the 50 state ratifications needed to enter into force. The meetings in Mexico are seen as part of an acceleration of efforts to boost the speed of implementation. The meetings themselves were open only to like-minded states and pro-ATT civil society groups like Control Arms. While Mexican Ambassador in Geneva Jorge Lomónaco marketed the Mexican meetings as informal, it is widely understood the event was aimed at pushing towards significant decisions/agreements among those in attendance.
On 27 August there was an initial meeting to exchange views in Geneva intended to help prepare for the Mexico City meetings. This meeting was actually open to all interested stakeholders and took place inside the UN’s Palais de Nations. The meeting focused on the topic of starting-up the ATT Secretariat. This meeting was one of several organized by the Geneva Forum on the ATT in the past months. The American diplomat present at this 27 August meeting did not offer any remarks. TSM Worldwide LLC presented some viewpoints with respect to non-state actors however. These viewpoints are summarized at the top of page four in the meeting report prepared by the Geneva Forum. Also discussed at the 27 August meeting was a paper outlining some thoughts on the creation of the ATT Secretariat by David Atwood. Mr. Atwood offered his views as an independent consultant but it is well known he is a staff adviser at the Small Arms Survey.
While this past year has seen a tremendous amount of energy put into encouraging states to ratify the ATT and planning for its entry into force, comparatively little energy has been put into open discussion of what the treaty actually says and means. One highly anticipated academic legal commentary, by Geneva arms control and disarmament experts Dr. Stuart Maslen and Sarah Parker, is well behind its original publication schedule. Ms. Parker was an adviser to the Australian ATT delegation and Dr. Maslen was an adviser to the Swiss ATT delegation. Their joint ATT publication was pre-announced last summer with a publication date estimated for the spring of 2014. It now appears their efforts have been joined by Dr. Andrew Clapham and Dr. Gilles Giacca and the commentary will most likely be released by Oxford University Press after the ATT enters into force.
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