The event was presided over by Ambassador Robert in de Bosch, representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In his opening remarks, he underscored the pivotal role of the ATT Monitor in monitoring the progress of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) towards its objectives. Ambassador de Bosch also emphasized the fundamental importance of transparency in arms exports, a critical element for fostering peace, security, and trust-building.
Within this year’s report, the Chair highlighted three key components: a comprehensive evaluation of the ATT’s effectiveness in regulating international arms trade, an in-depth review of the progress in adhering to transparency standards, and a comprehensive overview of the current implementation challenges.
Ambassador Seong-mee Yoon, from the Republic of Korea and serving as the President of the 9th Conference of States Parties to the ATT, stressed the pivotal role of the ATT Monitor in assisting States Parties in advancing the universalization and implementation of the treaty. She acknowledged the project’s ability to pinpoint key challenges in furthering ATT norms and its complete implementation. Ambassador Yoon also warmly welcomed the inclusion of a dedicated chapter addressing conventional ammunition.
Ms. Carina Solmirano, the Project Lead of the ATT Monitor, provided a comprehensive overview of the status of universalization within the ATT. She noted that, with 113 States Parties, there is still work to be done on the path to full universalization, as the pace of accession has significantly slowed in recent years. Ms. Solmirano then delved into the special section on conventional ammunition, highlighting that according to the ATT, States are required to apply an identical process for assessing prospective ammunition exports as for conventional weapons, based on the same risk criteria. However, she pointed out that inconsistencies in the ATT’s treatment of conventional ammunition could lead to uncertainty among States Parties if they were to adopt a narrow interpretation of the Treaty’s obligations.
Additionally, Ms. Solmirano presented key trends in reporting and transparency, which included a concerning decline in compliance with reporting obligations and, consequently, a reduction in the number of reports that are meaningfully transparent.
Rachel Stohl, Vice-President of the Stimson Center, provided a comprehensive update on the status of initial and annual reports within the ATT framework. She pointed out a rather concerning statistic, noting that only two ATT initial reports were submitted during the period under analysis, expressing her genuine concern regarding the scarcity of updated initial reports.
Stohl highlighted the significant role played by developing and least developed countries in leading the way with their prompt submission of 2022 annual reports. In her words, “the ATT community should engage with these early reporters… and learn from them about their own reporting challenges.” This approach recognizes the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the ATT community.
Furthermore, Stohl pointed out that the on-time reporting for 2022 annual reports had reached the lowest point in the history of the ATT. However, she also took a moment to commend those States Parties that managed to submit overdue annual reports in the past year. This acknowledgment highlights the commendable efforts of these countries in fulfilling their reporting obligations.
The event placed strong emphasis on the fundamental principle that, while transparency is of utmost importance, it should not be viewed as a replacement for Treaty compliance. But transparency is pivotal to gaining insight into arms transfers and, notably, in preventing diversion, particularly in conflict-ridden scenarios such as the situation in Ukraine.
*Special thanks to the Government of Canada and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for supporting the production and dissemination of the ATT Monitor 2023 Report.