FINAL REPORT on the Third Preparatory Committee (Prep Comm) meeting for the Arms Trade Treaty that ended on July 15, 2011.

By Julianne Versnel, Second Amendment Foundation Director of Operations

With the Chairman’s Draft Paper distributed on July 14, 2011, it is apparent that small arms and ammunition will be included in the ATT final draft that will be hammered out at the month-long negotiating conference in July 2012. Small arms and ammunition have been the focus of much of the discussions by the delegates. While this was expected from many less developed states, the vehement and strident comments suggesting the scope of the proposed ATT be broadened by Australia, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland and Norway were somewhat surprising.

This meeting had over 375 requests for registrations by NGOs and other interested parties. This was not an open meeting and specific permission had to be received so that registration could even be made. This is an unprecedented number.

A member of the UN staff asked me on the first day of the meeting why there were so many people who wanted to attend this conference. The First and Second Prep Comms meetings had had about 100 and 125 NGOs in attendance respectively. As the week progressed, the answer to the question became obvious. This conference is about firearms and ammunition. Just as this is an emotional issue that elicits strong feelings from Americans, so it is in the rest of the world.

The great majority of those attending were from organizations that deal almost exclusively with small arms. On July 14, 2011, NGOs were allocated one hour to make statements. Control Arms, a Survivors’ Declaration and IANSA spoke and were followed by remarks by the National Rifle Association, World Forum for the Future of Sports Shooting Activities and Defense Small Arms Advisory Committee. There was no presentation that discussed any part of the scope of the treaty beyond firearms and ammunition.

The fourth and final Prep Comm is to take place in mid February 2012. While this has been described as a technical conference, there is little likelihood that there will actually be further discussion for expanding the scope and reach of the ATT to be presented the following July.

The Second Amendment Foundation remains vigilant in covering the progress of the upcoming United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.