WILPF statement to the second preparatory meeting of the Fifth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

This statement was delivered at the second preparatory meetings for the Fifth Conference of States Parties (CSP5) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on 5 April 2019.

WILPF would like to start by extending its appreciation to Ambassador Karklins for leadership on advancing this thematic focus within the context of the ATT. We know it isn’t easy, and that in this room, whether it is said or not, there are those who are not convinced of the importance, utility, or value of doing so, or don’t see any connection between “gender” and the international arms trade. Yet, the fact remains that one of the agreed purposes of this Treaty is to reduce human suffering. We know that women, men, boys, girls, and others each suffer differently from armed violence and conflict. We know that gender-based violence is the most prevalent form of violence in the world. Therefore, any effort to reduce human suffering done in a way that is gender blind, will inevitably fall short of that purpose. The fact also remains that the provision on gender-based violence prevention deserves due and equal attention and adherence, along with all other legal requirements set out in the Treaty.  

Responses to the Presidents' draft elements paper:

  • “Representation and participation”: We support these suggestions and measures. We caution that a move to gender diverse delegations not be done to just tick a box but that it be done meaningfully. As well, if efforts are being made to diversify delegations but it’s proving challenging, then I don’t think it should be taboo to talk about that or explore what the reasons and challenges behind it are.
  • “Understanding the gendered impact of armed violence”: Here we would offer a further point for general consideration, that in future discussions and meetings we do better to support the participation and inputs from people impacted by gender-based violence so to improve our collective understanding in a first-hand way. This might be something to consider for the proposed thematic panel at CSP5.
  • “Observations on recommendations on ‘Gender-based violence risk assessment criteria”: we spoke earlier this week on the suggestion of a creating a manual, with the encouragement that anything new be created to fill research gaps and take account of existing work. It would be excellent to agree to a mechanism or space for information exchange and compilation of existing practice in this area.
  • Suggested additional point or encouragement: To enhance states parties’ ability to implement Article 7(4), they should harmonise obligations under the ATT with obligations under the CEDAW Convention, National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security, and other human rights treaties, as applicable. This would expand and strengthen linkages between the arms control community, including states parties’ Ministries of Defence with other relevant stakeholders, and would therefore allow a better understanding in implementing Article 7.4 and general policy coherence.
  • “In addition” section: it’s clear that this subject needs longer term and on-going consideration so any measures that would establish a way to do so would be encouraged by us, and we of course would be happy to support as we can.

To that end, we have a few planned activities that we would like to share at this juncture:

  • We’ll be putting out a call to our global network, which comprises nearly 40 national sections, for testimony, evidence and research demonstrating how different types of weapons facilitate GBV, in all its different forms. We have observed that there is not a strong evidence base in this regard and we would like to move toward establishing one, particularly through field rather than desk research, at local and national levels. We hope to have some findings to share at CSP5 and intend to bring a small delegation of experts from the global WILPF network.
  • We are in the process of developing a database or hub on our website, reachingcriticalwill.org, for resources on gender and disarmament and arms control subjects. We already have quite a lot of our own material but would like to create a ‘one stop shop’ if you will, that features resources from other organizations, member states, etc and that spans multiple weapons issues.
  • We are exploring organizing a short, one day workshop for Geneva-based disarmament diplomats within the next few months that could be a space to further discuss and build knowledge on some of the gender-related concepts being discussed at these meetings, but in a space that is not necessarily anchored to the Treaty’s infrastructure and would benefit from in-depth conversation, led by expert trainers and facilitators including from outside the arms control community.
  • In the extremely immediate term we have a side event at the lunch break that will also take that a learning and knowledge-building approach by inviting in experts from UN Women and the Gender Unit of the OHCHR, and our national section in Cameroon.

Thank you for your attention we look forward to hearing the views of others.