The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) discussions–ongoing at the UN since 2006–have from the beginning mostly focused on one hand the future Treaty’s goals and principles, and on the other on its scope and parameters. A third, equally important aspect of developing an ATT is its future implementation, which was a central theme at the most recent meeting of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), held at the UN Headquarters in New York from 11-15 July 2011.
A crucial element in this implementation discussion has been transparency and the ways in which information exchange between future States Parties to an ATT could support its functioning and effectiveness. While the format and types of information exchange to be included in an ATT will largely depend on the future Treaty’s scope, parameters and other elements, considerations on the transparency functions of an ATT should not be left until the last stages of negotiations but kept in mind throughout the preparatory process.
This paper takes a closer look at the issue of transparency as it relates to the proposed ATT and its future implementation. In the following sections this paper presents different options related to transparency measures for an ATT: the paper starts with a short justification of why transparency measures are seen as an important element of regional and international security policy initiatives and what arguments States have made in support of transparency in an ATT. A close look is then taken at possible national reporting requirements under an ATT - what this could mean, what information could be covered, how often and to whom reports could be submitted, and what other possible information exchange mechanisms could be included in the Treaty.
The paper also examines some proposed and existing systems of dialogue, consultations and networking, such as peer review mechanisms and dispute settlement. Finally, as a practical and national-level measure of transparency, record keeping and possibilities of further transparency enabled by technological developments are discussed.