Are Arms Trade Treaty Meetings Being Used to Their Full Potential?

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Author: Allison Pytlak1
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  • 1 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Programme Manager, Reaching Critical Will, USA

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When adopted in 2013 the international Arms Trade Treaty (att) was widely heralded for its life-saving potential and for bringing human rights and humanitarian concerns squarely into international arms transfers decision-making processes. This article takes a critical look at the att meeting cycle, which comprises an annual conference of states parties (csp), as well as preparatory sessions and meetings of the Treaty’s working groups. The article is guided by the question, are att meetings being used to their full potential to meet the Treaty’s objectives and prevent atrocities? It studies two aspects of the att meeting cycles—working groups and annual csp thematic areas of focus — to demonstrate the nature of the substantive outcomes that are emerging from conferences. The article identifies that the inability of states parties to use the meetings to address matters of compliance with the att’s prohibition and risk assessment requirements constitutes a major shortcoming, and offers suggestions and alternatives for states parties and other stakeholders.

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