Transparency measures with regards to international arms transfers have been prominent in the discussions around an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) since the beginning of the process at the UN.1 Most commonly, states have referred to the possibility of including a requirement for the submission of regular national reports in an ATT to increase transparency in international arms transfers.
Providing information on arms transfer authorizations and deliveries demonstrates that states have assessed the risk of proposed transfers and also that they maintain records. Many States have recognized the added value of increased transparency in international arms transfers, but concerns have also been raised regarding the sensitive nature of the information that would be reported. Negotiators of the ATT will have to ensure that the right balance is struck between ensuring that legitimate concerns are met and that an ATT will still be able to fulfill its transparency-related goals.
This paper provides options for achieving this balance. The first part of the paper stresses that reporting on international arms transfers is not a new phenomenon and that there are a number of existing approaches to provide peers and the wider public with information on international arms transfers. It acknowledges the challenges for reporting on international arms transfers. The second part of the paper considers options and challenges for reporting on authorizations and/or deliveries. The third part of the paper considers options and challenges for reporting on different types of activities, in particular imports, brokering and transit and transhipment. The fourth part draws upon existing practices for reporting on authorizations and deliveries for different types of categories of conventional arms, with a particular focus on ammunition, spare parts and components and technologies/licensed production.