Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement: Arms Trade Treaty Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation (Geneva, 29– 30 January 2019) - Key EU Messages

Geneva, 30/01/2019 - 16:56, UNIQUE ID: 190130_4
Statements on behalf of the EU

EU Statement: Arms Trade Treaty Working Group on Effective Treaty Implementation (Geneva, 29– 30 January 2019) - Key EU Messages

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia[*] and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

Article 5 (General implementation)

The EU’s Outreach Programme has been instrumental in advancing the implementation of key provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. This includes support for the Treaty's core requirement of establishing national control systems and national control lists. The EU-funded projects have helped to draft and review the legislative and regulatory framework of the partner countries and build capacities of national authorities.
In Latin America, Costa Rica, who is our long-term partner since 2014, developed its national transfer control list in December 2018. The Costa Rican list could serve as a good example for the whole region, in addition to providing the basis for establishing the legal framework for a national transfer control authority in Costa Rica.

In Africa

- We have engaged with Zambia on the development of national transfer control legislation, on the establishment of a transit licensing system and on the harmonisation of ATT implementation with other international agreements and treaties. An inter-ministerial high-level committee was established, with monthly meetings, and two sub-committees were created to draft relevant legislation and a national transfer control list.

- We support Ghana’s efforts to put in place a national transfer control list to enable Ghana to enforce the ATT. In this context, a study visit, hosted by the UK Border Force, took place in September 2018 at London Heathrow, in which representatives of the Ghanaian authorities involved in arms transfer control participated.

- A similar study visit to Paris, hosted by the French Export Control Authorities, enabled an inter-agency delegation from Senegal to benefit from an exchange of good practices and lessons learnt. The activity resulted in a new review by Senegal of its draft law on transfers of conventional weapons.

- Work started with Sierra Leone on a comprehensive assistance roadmap in accordance with the ATT.

- Legal assistance was provided to Madagascar and Côte d'Ivoire to update their national legislative frameworks with the ATT requirements. In Côte d'Ivoire, a dedicated inter-agency exercise was designed and implemented with a view to sharing practical experiences and good practices for coordination between licensing and enforcement authorities.

In the Western Balkans, support was provided to Albanian customs and licensing officials for the development of new guidelines and operational procedures, following the ratification of the new Albanian law on the international transfer of military goods and dual-use items and technology.

Article 7.4 (Gender-Based Violence)

The EU welcomes that gender-based violence has been chosen as a priority topic for the Latvian ATT Presidency. The ATT is the first legally binding international instrument to recognise the connection between arms transfers and gender-based violence and relate obligations to this.  Article 7.4 of the ATT explicitly requires that the exporting State Party, in its assessment before authorizing the export of conventional arms, shall take into account the risk of the relevant items being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. The implementation of the ATT will contribute to achieving SDG target 5.2 on eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls. We continue to support all efforts designed to help States Parties effectively implement Article 7.4.

All EU Member States abide by the 2008 EU Common Position, which defines common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment. Each request for an arms export licence for an item which is listed in the EU Common Military List must be assessed against eight criteria. In accordance with the provisions of the ATT, the risk of gender-based violence and violence against women and children has to be taken into account when examining criterion 2 under the heading: respect for human rights in the country of final destination, as well as respect by that country for international humanitarian law.

As a contribution to our debate, I would like to mention common examples of gender based violence, which are contained in the User’s Guide to the EU Common Position, namely sexual violence (including rape), forced prostitution, trafficking, domestic violence and forced marriage. The User’s Guide also states that acts of gender-based violence violate a number of human rights principles enshrined in international instruments and can constitute violations of international humanitarian law if perpetrated during armed conflict. The User’s Guide is intended to help export licencing officials in EU Member States to apply the Common Position and summarise agreed guidance for the interpretation of its criteria and implementation of its articles. We support your efforts to develop similar guidance also in the ATT framework to help all States Parties.

 Article 11 (Diversion)

Preventing diversion of conventional arms is a key ATT objective and a priority for further work. We support further voluntary exchange of information on illicit arms flows and diversion trends and compiling best practices on preventing and addressing diversion. Similar to last year, this should include discussions on the prevention of diversion before, during and after shipment.

As required by the EU Common Position on arms exports, each EU Member State has committed itself to assessing whether there is a risk that the military equipment will be diverted within the buyer country, or re-exported under undesirable conditions. The risk of diversion is explicitly included as one of the eight criteria in the EU Common Position. An important indicator in this regard is the diversion track record of the declared end-user as well as, where appropriate, their record in respecting re-export provisions of prior transactions.  EU Member States take this criterion very seriously as illustrated by the fact that it is the most invoked for denying an export license application. In 2017, as documented in the EU Annual Report, it was invoked 163 times as reason for a denial. The latest 20th EU Annual Report on Arms Exports was published on 14 December 2018.

The EU's outreach activities in third countries also contribute to the implementation of Article 11 of the ATT. Our activities in support of regional and sub-regional cooperation are particularly relevant in this context.

In Latin America, cooperation has increased notably between Colombia, a long-term partner in the EU outreach programme, and Chile. Another activity with Peru and Costa Rica facilitated the sharing of information on Costa Rica's experience of the process of setting up a national control authority and Peru's experience of handling illicit trafficking of arms.

In the Caucasus, regional co-operation was similarly developed through an activity in Georgia, involving Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and covering issues related to the ATT implementation and challenges of regional co-operation.

Furthermore, the EU counters diversion by supporting tracing capacities that allow the identification of points of diversion and by providing information-exchange systems that allow cutting supply to identified diverters in the framework of arms export control. In this context, the EU is supporting the identification and documenting of diverted arms in conflict affected areas and the sharing of this information with the export control authorities of the concerned states in order to support their diversion risk assessment process.

Thank you, Mr. Chair

[*] The former Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.