On April 2, 2013 governments adopted the text of the first ever Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at the United Nations in New York. The treaty, which prohibits the sale of arms if there is a risk that the weapons could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, is the first ever treaty that recognizes the link between gender-based violence and the international arms trade.
The Arms Trade Treaty text was adopted in the General Assembly with a vote of 154 in favor, 3 against, and 23 abstentions. The final UN negotiating conference failed to adopt the text by consensus on 28 March due to objections from Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Syria. In response, over 100 countries co-sponsored a draft General Assembly resolution calling for the adoption of the treaty text, which was successfully adopted on 2 April.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) welcomes the adoption of the treaty as a first step towards regulating international transfers of arms. However, our organization cautions that the treaty is not sufficiently robust or comprehensive enough. The risk of legitimizing the international arms trade, especially irresponsible transfers, must be avoided through careful interpretation and implementation. To read more click below...
The criterion on gender-based violence (GBV) is now binding. The new article 7(4) mandates exporting states parties explicitly, as part of the risk assessment process, to take into account the risk of the weapons, ammunition, parts, or components being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or violence against women and children. States shall not be permitted to authorize the transfer where there is an overriding risk of GBV when it constitutes one of the negative consequences of article 7(1)—i.e. when it is a violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) or international human rights law (IHRL), when it undermines peace and security, or when it forms part of transnational organised crime.
The criterion is not as strong as demanded by the 100+ delegations supporting a strengthened provision for preventing GBV. They wanted the criterion to be included in article 7(1). However, the current formulation does improve the extremely weak language in previous drafts.
WILPF, our committed ATT gender team and our partners have mobilized in New York and far beyond on the GBV aspects of the arms trade for several years. We have called for action to make GBV prevention legally-binding. The improved criterion on preventing GBV is due to the tireless efforts of many delegations, particularly Iceland, and the 100+ states and civil society organizations that supported a stronger provision to prevent armed GBV. Our collective call has been respected, as this text makes prevention of GBV explicit and its exclusion less possible. We must now build upon this historic momentum to respond to the rights of those affected by armed gender-based violence and to prevent sales of arms that would affect the countless more.
Download WILPF Policy Recommendation (March 2013) on gender-based violence:
WILPF had a public open call to join our campaign to guarantee the inclusion of prevention of gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty.
We invited supporters to make their voices heard as government gathered for the final negotiations of an Arms Trade Treaty. We warned that any references and focus on gender have a tendency to end up merely as a secondary criterion or forgotten all together. It was therefore important that WILPF members and civil society pushed our governments to support specific language on GBV in the treaty.
It is now time to mobilize and make a difference!
Go to: http://www.wilpfinternational.org/att-2013, where you can find the petition and more ideas on how to help us become louder and stronger.
There were two negotiating conferences on the ATT and several prep conferences. The first negotiating conference held in July 2012 failed to reach consensus. The conference did result in a Draft Treaty Text issued on July 26, 2012. This draft text did include two references to women/gender, in preamble paragraph 11 and in Article 4.6b. The second negotiating conference on the ATT was held at the UN Headquarters in New York from 18–28 March 2013.
Before the July 2012 conference, WILPF teamed up with Amnesty International, the International Action Network Against Small Arms (IANSA), Oxfam International, Global Action to Prevent War, and Religions for Peace to advocate for the inclusion of specific criteria in the ATT, which should prevent arms export in cases where armed gender-based violence is likely to occur. The Policy Paper was called: Securing Women’s Rights and Gender Equality: A united call to explicitly include gender-based violence in the criteria. Read the full paper here. The Paper outlined our position on why the ATT should require States not to allow an international transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. If the ATT is to be an effective legal instrument in regulating the international arms trade, recognition of the potential gendered impacts of international transfers must also be included.
We also worked on a public campaign calling for endorsement of our position to support a strong ATT and the inclusion of a specific gender criterion in the negotiated text. Hundreds of civil society organizations around the world have supported our call for gender focus in the ATT. Thank you all! Read the Call to Endorse Gender at ATT- Signatories here >>. We did extensive outreach and requested supporters to write to their government directly to support a strong ATT and the inclusion of a specific gender criterion in the negotiated text. See attached template letter.
At the July 2012 Conference, WILPF organized several key events. As of July 27 2012, 76 UN Member States have supported the inclusion of gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty. These states in favor of the inclusion of GBV in the ATT included: Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Ireland, Iceland, Samoa, Gabon, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Uruguay, Portugal, Mexico, Korea, UK, France, Tanzania, Turkey, Peru, South Sudan, DRC, Djibouti, Somalia, Uganda, Switzerland, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
During the July 2012 Conference, we held a joint event with UNWomen and CEDAW Committee. Following the event and communications, the CEDAW Committee issues a Statement (adopted 24 July 2012).
Read the full Statement here>> The Statement emphasized the specific factors relating to armed conflict which hinder the enjoyment of substantive equality for women and reiterates the necessity for general and complete disarmament.
After the July 2012 Conference, WILPF analyzed the draft Treaty and formulated our engagement strategy. We concluded that the draft Treaty text must be strengthened. This wording on GBV should be included as an obligation under Article 4.2 of the draft. The wording must be an obligation in the criteria requiring States to deny an international transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Tuesday, July 10th: (1:15 - 2:45) Madeleine, WILPF Secretary-General, and Jasmin, IANSA briefed member states at Mission of Canada.
Wednesday July 11th: Five WILPF Sections (Philippines, Spain, Mexico, US, and Sweden) participated in a one-day training session that will focus on enhancing the work on a national level concerning arms trade and military expenditure. The training included drawing up plans for national project and coordinating such projects with an international strategy, and had specific focus on fundraising and how to interact with governments on a national level.
Thursday, July 12th: (1:15 to 2:30) Side Event on Gender and ATT at the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, with partners WILPF, Amnesty, IANSA. See Invitation >>
See Summary from the Side Event >>
Picture left: Marren Akatsa-Bukachi, EASSI, IANSA
Madeleine Rees, WILPF
Riitta Resch, Head of the ATT delegation of Finland (chair)
Clare da Silva Amnesty International
Dr. Dan Kuwali, Government of Malawi
Friday, July 20th: (1:15 to 2:45) Side Event on Arms Trade Treaty and CEDAW at UNWomen, 19th Floor, with partners IANSA, IAW, WILPF and UN Women. Hosted at UNWomen headquarters, with partners IANSA, IAW, WILPF and UN Women. The event discussed how the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) along with the UN Security Council resolution 1325 et al. can work to prevent discrimination against women and gender-based violence (GBV), particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Speakers include: (From left to right at the picture) Michèle Olga Pépé, IANSA Women’s Network member and the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA)-Cote d'Ivoire, Pramila Patten, CEDAW expert and Chair, Working Group on Women in Conflict and Post-conflict Situations, Anne Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor, Peace and Security, UN Women, Nicole Ameline, Vice-Chair, CEDAW committee and expert. Vanessa Farr, International expert and consultant, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), See Invitation >>
See Summary from the Side Event >>
Reaching Critical Will, WILPF's disarmament project, monitored the negotiation conference. As with the four preparatory committees leading up to these negotiations, RCW posted statements and documents online and coordinated, edited, and contributed a daily newsletter, the ATT Monitor, and an online blog together with activists from Global Action to Prevent War, International Action Network on Small Arms and World Council of Churches.
To view WILPF's Position Paper and Toolkit on the ATT, see the attached documents.
Further information about the ATT Negotiating Conference is available on the RCW website.
Read the article of PeaceWomen and IANSA on ATT and Gender Based Violence here.
Track the ATT Negotiations at RCW supported website.
The Arms Trade Treaty: Why Women?, IANSA Women’s Network
Joined-Up Thinking: International Measures for Women’s Security and SALW Control (2010) By Cynthia Dehesa and Sarah Masters Women peace and security: The role of an Arms Trade Treaty (2009)
The Arms Trade Treaty: An Important Opportunity to Prevent Gender Based Violence at Gunpoint (2012)
If you’re serious about the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda, then prove it, IANSA Women’s Network The Arms Trade Treaty: An Important Opportunity to Prevent Gender Based Violence at Gunpoint, IANSA Women’s Network, 4th Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Preparatory Committee (13-17 February 2012)
Women’s Role in Implementing a Humanitarian Arms Trade TreatyOpen letter from the IANSA Women's Network: Women call for a strong Arms Trade Treaty
Check out which nations are in support of gender-based violence content in the ATT with Mapping Database by WILPF's RCW Project at www.armstreaty.org.
Reaching Critical Will, WILPF's disarmament project