Portugal naturally shares the contents of the statement delivered by the European Union and considers the recent discussion paper of the President of the Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty a good basis for this negotiation.
Portugal wishes to highlight some aspects of particular relevance to her in regard to the Treaty.
Six years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted the first resolution on the ATT, initiating a long period of consultations that led us to this Conference. We are called to take definite steps towards the adoption of a legally binding instrument that enshrines the highest common international standards on the transfer of arms. These should be as comprehensive as possible and should constitute the basis for a risk assessment that would determine if a given transfer should take place or not. Such criteria must include respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
Likewise, they must include due consideration to any adverse effect on regional security and stability, as well as the risk of diversion.
On the other hand a meaningful Treaty ought to regulate most forms of trade and have an encompassing scope. In this regard, it is clear that the scope of the Treaty must include the brokering of arms, small arms, light weapons, technology and munitions. It is upon us to prevent loopholes that will otherwise undermine the efforts all Nations have put into this negotiation.
That is why Portugal also attaches great importance to the inclusion of provisions on transparency which are also a mean of building confidence in compliance. Mandatory reporting of exports and denials is a key element of the Treaty as we foresee it. Only by fostering mutual trust will the Treaty achieve its desired degree of implementation.
In this regard, the Treaty should also recognize the important responsibilities of regional organizations, and it is therefore desirable that it will be open for signature for relevant regional organizations, such as the European Union.
The implementation of such a landmark Treaty will require credible efforts from all stakeholders. Portugal, with its European partners, has a long standing commitment to arms control and remains ready to engage in capacity building with third countries in the framework of its regional obligations and the international cooperation provisions to be included in the Arms Trade Treaty.
Finally, we believe that we should seize this opportunity to further advance human rights law and humanitarian law. As we address the issue of arms control, we should not loose sight of the daily plight of those that have fallen victims of the irresponsible trade in conventional arms, namely children and women, due to the widespread availability of small arms. For this reason provisions on victims’ assistance should also be included in the Treaty.
This statement outlines some of the key aspects of Portugal’s position. In the forthcoming weeks, we will have time to elaborate on such elements. Portugal reiterates her steadfast commitment to the success of this Conference and to the goal of securing a global agreement on a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty.