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15 July 2009 - International cooperation in the framework of a future Arms Trade Treaty - Statement by Mr. Eric Danon, Head of Delegation, Ambassador, Representative of France at the Disarmament Conference

(translation of statement made in French)

(Open-ended Working Group Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms)

Mr. President,

One of the objectives of a future arms trade treaty is to normalize the arms market. This is an eminently difficult task. The arms market is not like other markets. Beyond the political implications of each transaction, beyond its effects on violence in the world, it is highly opaque, characterized by a vast number of financial transactions and a lack of real international control.

The first step toward normalization would be to establish a minimum degree of transparency in this market.

Of course, many States publish annual reports presenting their arms export policies (less common for imports) as well as the national mechanisms and modalities of its regulation. Some publish facts and figures relating to the year’s exports.

Such reports testify to the good will of a certain number of States when it comes to improving transparency in this area of concern to us and with regard to civil society. Thus, the treaty could encourage the issuance of such periodic reports on a more widespread level, at least regionally. A provision on the promotion and more generalized use of the UN Register could also be included. While some States have difficulties establishing such transparency mechanisms, a cooperation clause could be provided to help them, which would also fall within the category of developing trust-building measures.

To normalize the arms market, the arms industry must recognize the need for and the usefulness of effective systems of State control. To this end, the treaty could include a clause on the fight against corruption among officials engaged in international commercial transactions. That said, the preamble of the future treaty will probably refer to existing conventions in this area. Furthermore, we must consider the appropriateness of a clause relating to the fight against money laundering, either directly or in reference to existing conventions. Finally, the normalization of the market will come about through the efforts of States in the area of i) communicating about best practices, and ii) the training of government experts in customs and the control of imports and exports.

In this area too the treaty should include assistance clauses. This would meet the needs of a certain number of States with respect to the establishment of suitable national regulatory mechanisms, procedures authorizing transfers and an assessment of their quality. That assistance should be voluntary on the part of States both requesting and providing such services. In conclusion, I would like to emphasize how much the adoption of the treaty will be just one step toward normalizing the arms market and ensuring the accountability of all players.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU