Side Event: Transparency and Reporting in the Arms Trade Treaty: Trends and Challenges in the Age of COVID-19

With support of the governments of Australia and the Netherlands, the ATT Monitor, an independent project of Control Arms and the Stimson Center’s ATT-Baseline Assessment Project (ATTBAP) hosted a side event discussing transparency and reporting in the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Carina Solmirano and Katherine Young of the ATT Monitor presented key findings of its 2020 ATT Monitor Annual Report. Rachel Stohl, of Stimson’s ATT-BAP, launched a new report, Reporting During a Pandemic: Reflections on the Arms Trade Treaty 2019 Annual Reports.

Ambassador Robbert Gabriëlse of the Netherlands and Diwaka Prakash of Australia began the event with remarks about the important role of ATT reporting in advancing the Treaty’s objectives of transparency and confidence-building in the global arms trade. While commending and highlighting the important work of civil society in monitoring and supporting implementation of the ATT, Ambassador Gabriëlse also described how fundamental both transparency and information exchange are as tools to effectively implement the Treaty.

Diwaka Prakash also highlighted the important role of civil society and industry in raising awareness about the object and purpose of the ATT. All ATT stakeholders have a role to play in promoting cooperation, transparency and responsible action in the global arms trade,” he affirmed.

Carina Solmirano began the presentation of the 2020 ATT Monitor Annual Report with an overview of its chapter on the role of transparency and information sharing in tackling diversion. The chapter seeks to fill gaps in understandings around the key terminology and Treaty provisions, as well as identify specific diversion prevention and mitigation measures. It presents three examples of actual cases of diversion. These three case studies, noted Prakash, are a valuable insight into the detection of diversion problems as they arise, as well as potential mitigation measures. This ultimately contributes to transparency and confidence-building in the arms trade.

The remainder of the event focused on compliance with ATT reporting obligations and transparency commitments, as they both have important roles to play in advancing the Treaty’s objective of transparency and confidence-building in the global arms trade.

Katherine Young presented key findings from the 2020 ATT Monitor Annual Report, highlighting the importance of reporting practice in submitting comprehensive and transparent annual reports. In this regard, she provided examples of good practice, including providing comments and descriptions on reported arms transfers.

Both Young and Stohl drew attention to challenges to reporting that threaten to undermine the ATT’s core objectives. The ATT-BAP new publication identifies three challenges: decreasing compliance with ATT’s annual reporting requirements, increasing rates of private reporting, and increased exclusion and withholding of sensitive information. Private reporting, for example, reached 21 per cent of all reports submitted for 2019.

Important to addressing these challenges is the continued action by all ATT stakeholders to support states parties in submitting comprehensive, accurate, and timely reports. This includes providing direct assistance to states in understanding reporting obligations and the importance of providing more than the bare minimum of information requested of them in annual reports.

As published in the Reaching Critical Will ATT Monitor Vol. 18 No.4 of 08 November 2020.


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