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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, the Countries of Stabilisation and Association Process and Potential Candidate Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Armenia, Georgia and Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

Mr. Chairman,

We welcome the open and constructive exchange of views during this first session of the Open-Ended Working Group under your expert guidance. This has enabled us to make progress towards a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty in a way that is acceptable to all and that will make a tangible contribution to global security and stability.

We have listened carefully to the many very interesting and useful exchanges between distinguished colleagues and we are encouraged by the positive will to address the problem posed by the unregulated trade, transfer and activities in arms.

We noticed emerging consensus on the broad scope of an ATT. The European Union is convinced that the scope of an ATT should include the international trade and transfer, including transit, trans-shipment, brokering and other related activities, of all conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, explosives, ammunition, as well as corresponding parts and components and manufacturing technology. The scope of an ATT should also include those areas that will help stop illegal re-exports, diversion from the legal to the illicit trade and unlicensed production. There needs to be careful consideration of whether dual use items should be included in these deliberations. It is clear that an ATT should not undermine the primary responsibility of the national authorities on control of exports.

We have heard during this week the views of several states who consider that priority should be given to the fight against the illicit trade in arms. In this regard, the EU is convinced that the unregulated trade in weapons provides opportunities that permit illicit transfers of arms. If we really want to achieve progress on this, we should tackle the problem at its source and an ATT seems to us the most appropriate tool for this purpose. Only a global legally binding instrument will have the capacity to effectively address these challenges, filling the gap between existing national and regional regimes.

We are of the opinion that the parameters of an ATT should be based upon the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. This comprises both rights and responsibilities, such as full compliance with UN Security Council authorised sanctions, respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

We further consider that the parameters of an ATT should reflect existing international commitments and prevent and reduce conflicts. States should ensure that, when deciding whether to authorise their arms exports, they take into account the impact that these may have on the security situation and the economic and social development of the country and region of final destination. Other issues such as the risk of diversion or undesirable re-export and the possibility that the export may fall into the hands of terrorists should also be taken into consideration.

We are clear that an ATT should not deprive Member States of their right to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for individual or collective self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. Nor should it include transfers within a state or regulations on domestic gun ownership.

Mr Chairman,

We mentioned in our opening statement that the European Union has agreed to fund six regional meetings and other relating events over the coming year to raise awareness of the issues raised by the proposed Arms Trade Treaty. These meetings will be organised and implemented through UNIDIR and it is intended that they will facilitate further discussion, increase awareness and contribute to better involvement of all relevant actors in the UN process towards an ATT. Such an initiative testifies to the full commitment of the EU to conducting consultations on an ATT within the UN framework, in the most inclusive way. We invite interested delegations to consult the text of the Council Decision 2009/42/CFSP which contains further information about these projects. We have made copies of this document available in the room.

In concluding, Mr. Chairman, we would like to reiterate that achieving a strong and effective ATT is a high priority for the EU. We would like to extend our thanks to you for your expert guidance during the course of this week, and for the assistance of the members of the Bureau in taking this process forward.

Thank you.


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