Transparent reporting for a successful arms trade treaty

Release date: 2015-03

The first Conference of States Parties to the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will take place in Mexico City from 24 to 27 August 2015. Of central importance for the successful implementation of the ATT is the issue of reporting, which is closely related to the issue of transparency. In BICC’s Policy Brief 1/2015 Max Mutschler and Jan Grebe give policy recommendations to enhance this process.

The authors in particular recommend:

\ Transparency as a key issue for the ATT

The ATT needs a reporting mechanism that increases transparency of the international arms trade. Transparency is a precondition to monitoring the adherence of signatory states to the criteria of the ATT and provides the basis for the further development of international norms for arms transfers.

\ Minimum standards

At a minimum, states parties to the ATT should aim to report on authorised and actual exports of conventional arms covered under Article 2 (1) of the ATT. Information provided should include the numbers and description of transferred weapons, the financial value of the licence, transit countries and the recipient country.

\ Opportunities for optional reporting

A standardised reporting template should provide the opportunity to offer additional information, such as more details on the end-users and on the condition of the weapons. Such a voluntary segment should further include the exports of ammunition/munitions, parts and components, production licences, technologies and equipment for the manufacturing of conventional arms.

\ Incentives for voluntary reporting

Creating incentives is vital for such an approach. A commitment to voluntary reporting should have a positive effect on the level of assistance that states receive in the framework of the ATT. Furthermore, participation in the reporting system should be taken as an indicator for the trustworthiness of states as partners on the international arms market.

\ Denial reporting

States parties to the ATT should discuss how a system of denial reporting could look like. States could start to provide information on denials of arms export licences confidentially and on a voluntary, rather informal, basis, possibly leading to a more standardised process in the future. Later on, this might be complemented by an aggregated report on denials that would be made public.