At the just concluded annual fifth Conference of State Parties (CSP5) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in which the Sierra Leone Action Network (SLANSA) fully participated, civil society organisations across the world urged States Parties to increase their efforts toward the robust implementation and universalization of the ATT.
One of the leading civil society consortiums, Control Arms, demanded that States Parties immediately cease all export authorizations that violate Articles 6 and 7 of the ATT, while fully incorporating an assessment of the risks of gender-based violence (GBV) in arms transfer decisions.
The theme of CSP5 which took place in Geneva from 26th to 31st August, 2019, was gender and gender-based violence (GBV), focusing on three areas- meaningful and equitable gender representation in ATT delegations; the differential gendered impact of armed violence and conflict; and the incorporation of gender-based violence into the ATT's export risk assessment.
In Geneva, campaigners from all around the world gathered at the Palais des Nations to raise awareness about, especially grave harms faced by those particularly vulnerable during conflict, such as children and victims of gender-based violence.
Various speakers at the conference emphasised that the treaty is a "life-saving treaty, and that the progress that has been made so far was not enough not for the millions of civilians who suffer due to violence perpetrated by weapons," and "not for the thousands of people who still live in fear of gender-based violence," and not "for the millions of children who continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of armed violence and warfare."
States were also called upon to "rigorously adhere to legal obligations under the Treaty," to "immediately cease arms transfers that fuel conflict, poverty, and violations of human rights and humanitarian law," to "support transparency to help ensure accountability and prevent diversion," and to "leverage the ATT to protect against gender-
The importance of stemming illicit flows of weapons, which empower criminal groups, threaten law and order and diminish the ability of governments to carry out their basic functions, was also stressed on.
State Parties present raised concerns around the adequacy of current funding levels and the importance for ATT States Parties to meet their financial obligations under the Treaty.
Both Germany and the Netherlands called for improved reporting by States Parties, with the Netherlands adding a particular emphasis on the importance of transparency and the public availability of those reports.
Sierra Leone's representative from the National Commission appreciated the funds provided by the Voluntary Trust Fund that ensures the country's participation in such meetings.
Numerous States Parties raised concerns around particular countries' and regions' hesitation in joining and implementing the treaty, and the European Union called out the United States, in particular, for its recent announcement that it will withdraw its signature from the Treaty.