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UK statement at Arms Trade Treaty Final Conference

Ambassador Joanne Adamson, UK Head of Delegation: The UK believes we are moving in the right direction, this is not a race to the bottom.

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The United Kingdom joined the statement made earlier by the distinguished delegate for Ghana on behalf of a number of states.

We too wish to thank you for the revised text and for the commitment, energy and effort you, your team and the Facilitators are dedicating to taking us forward in a constructive and transparent way. As we begin the second and final week of our vital work, the UK remains confident that we are in good hands. We are making good progress and moving in the right direction.

We agree with our distinguished Ghana friend and colleague that the text contains welcome improvements such as: the inclusion of transnational organised crime as a criterion for mandatory refusal of an export; the introduction of a separate article on Diversion; the strengthening of the Prohibitions Article with a lower threshold and a broader definition of war crimes; and an explicit role for the Conference of States Parties in reviewing the implementation of the Treaty.

We also welcome the improvements in other areas including: ammunition, and parts and components, are now clearly covered by most of the Treaty’s provisions; the explicit requirements for a national control system and that national control lists should apply to the broadest range of arms; the inclusion of mutual legal assistance; the strengthening of the language to reduce the risks of arms exports undermining socio-economic development- the UK and Costa Rica are working the room as I speak on this issue; reference to weapons stockpile management; and the establishment of a voluntary fund to assist States Parties in implementing the Treaty.

These constitute significant steps towards our common goal of a strong and effective Treaty, setting the highest possible common standards for the international arms trade.

As we go forward into the final stages of our work, the UK is committed to supporting your efforts and those of the Facilitators in working to strengthen the text still further and here again I am agreeing with much of my Ghanaian colleague’s statement. For the UK, the priorities include six particular areas:

  • the widest possible range of items within the Scope of the Treaty, including under Parts and Components and Ammunition/Munitions: But we welcome that all major categories and Small Arms and Light Weapons are already included;

  • transfers made under other agreements should not be inconsistent with obligations under the Treaty;

  • we’re looking for the article on Prohibitions to capture all war crimes and serious violations of human rights; I fully support the language proposed by the Ambassador of Spain – a separate article on human rights would help to strengthen this text and continue along our upwards path to a strong Treaty

  • export risk assessments should prevent the authorization of transfers of arms if there is a substantial risk of the serious consequences listed in Article 7;

  • the Treaty should enhance transparency and strengthen accountability by ensuring that States Parties reports are made public; and

  • we look forward to working further to strengthen the important new provisions to counter the diversion of conventional arms.

The UK believes we are moving in the right direction, this is not a race to the bottom. When we started this conference we were at base camp. We are now approaching the summit. And the summit is consensus on a strong treaty. In these last two days we must strain every sinew to pull each other up to that summit. The UK delegation will be here and everywhere. We will not rest until this is done.

Published 26 March 2013