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July 13, 2009

Opening Statement at the second session of the Open-ended Working Group towards
an arms trade treaty, establishing common international standards for the import,
export and transfer of conventional arms. Statement made by Ambassador Bertil
Roth, Swedish Plenipotentiary for ATT issues.
Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.


The Candidate Country Croatia and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with
this statement.
First let me express my great satisfaction to see You, Ambassador García Moritán,
once again in the Chair. I am confident that under Your able guidance, progress will
be made during this week’s meeting.
The first meeting of this Open-ended Working Group in March here in New York was
characterised by a good atmosphere and the debate was constructive. The Member
States of the European Union intend to continue to make their contribution to the
ongoing consultations towards an effective, efficient and comprehensive Arms Trade
Treaty, that is a legally binding instrument setting international standards for the
import, export and transfer of conventional arms. Our aim remains to start
negotiations on this treaty as soon as possible.
The European Union attaches great importance to the development of a
comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty. I would like to focus today’s first intervention of
the EU on some thoughts about the rationale underpinning an Arms Trade Treaty and
the reasons that make its creation compelling for all UN Member States. I am
confident that in the coming days we will have further occasion to express the specific
views of the EU on what an ATT should look like in terms of scope and parameters
and how it could be implemented.
The unregulated international trade in conventional weapons, among them small arms
and light weapons, is a problem that affects all states. The lack of an effective global
system to regulate the arms trade creates gaps and inconsistencies in which arms can
be diverted into the illicit market. This causes widespread serious problems of
instability and human suffering in many regions of the world.
In the view of the EU a global treaty, agreed by all States that ensure the use of the
highest possible common international standards for the import, export and transfer of
conventional arms would be an indispensable tool, along with effective regional
mechanisms, to close these gaps. This would regulate the legal trade in arms to
minimize the risks of destabilization and diverted transfers, while making the licit
trade in weapons as reliable and straightforward as possible. For states this is an
approach that would also honour the rationale underpinning the creation of the United
Nations, that is to provide the forum in which states can co-operate to address
common problems. An ATT could also contribute to create more adequate conditions
for development through the reduction and prevention of armed violence.

Mr Chairman,

At the end of the last session there was a call for us to consider concrete ideas in this
second session of our working group. I would like to offer some concrete views on
behalf of the European Union.
The European Union is clear that an ATT should not prevent states from acquiring
conventional arms for use in the exercise of their inherent right to self-defence in
accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations or for use in support
of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Nor should it include transfers within a
state, regulations on domestic gun ownership, or affect the right of states parties to
operate more restrictive national policies.
However an ATT should require states to carry out an assessment, before authorising
an export of conventional weapons covered by the treaty, against a common set of
agreed criteria to determine whether it would be used to destabilise regions and states,
exacerbate conflict, violate international human rights law or international
humanitarian law, or undermine security and economic and social development, or
whether there is a risk that it would be diverted for such uses.
The aim of an ATT would not be to create new obligations in the areas of human
rights law or international humanitarian law but would require states to assess their
exports of conventional weapons against the international obligations and
commitments into which they had already entered and undertaken to uphold.

In our vision, States should reaffirm their existing international commitments and
obligations and they should apply them in considering whether to authorise an arms
export. The more of us that do that, the more consistency and reliability there will be
in the international arms trade, and the less easy it will be for arms to slip outside our
control.

The interests and responsibilities of importing and transit states should also be taken
into account by a future Arms Trade Treaty.

Acknowledging the current trend of globalization in the arms trade, the European
Union wishes to assert the importance that an ATT should promote international
cooperation, by mechanisms such as information sharing and exchange. Such
operational mechanisms should foster harmonization between national control
policies regarding export, import and transfer of conventional arms.

These last considerations bring me to the question of inclusiveness and maximum


participation in the consultations about an ATT. During the March session of this
group we announced that the European Union had agreed, through the adoption of a
Council Decision, to fund six regional meetings and other related events over the
following twelve months to raise awareness of the issues raised by the proposed Arms
Trade Treaty.

The implementation of these activities started in April with a first seminar organized
in Dakar for the Central, Northern and Western African states and a recent seminar
for the Americas held in June in Mexico City. The next stages will be the organization
of a seminar in Amman for the Middle East on 28-29 July and in Kuala Lumpur for
the Asian region in September 2009.

These meetings are being organized by the EU in cooperation with UNIDIR, and they
are intended to facilitate further discussion, increase awareness and contribute to
better involvement of all relevant actors in the UN process towards an ATT. The
results of the first two seminars are encouraging and show a growing interest and
commitment among states towards the creation of an ATT. We would be glad to share
with interested delegations further information on these events. Delegates are also
invited to attend the side-events on the regional seminars organized in the margins of
this session of the OEWG and of the next session of the First Committee of the
UNGA in October. The EU Council Decision demonstrates the full commitment of
the EU to conducting consultations on an ATT within the UN framework, in the most
inclusive way.

Mr Chairman,

The key point of this, my first intervention as the Chair of the EU Presidency is that
we all, every state in the world, big or small, regardless of the volume of arms trade in
which we are directly involved, face a common challenge. In our view this challenge
is that the unregulated trade in conventional arms allows arms to be used against our
common security. In our streets, against our families and friends, against our
travelling population and our peacekeepers, for human rights abuse and terrorist acts,
and against economic and social development. We need to work together to address
this common threat.
This is a global problem and it needs a global solution. The European Union and its
Member States stand ready to take part in a constructive way in the discussion on this
crucial issue in the forum of the United Nations to help to do this.