Supplementary Memorandum from the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In the light of the amendment to the Terms of
Reference of this Inquiry specifically to include conventional
weapons, the Foreign Affairs Committee might welcome up-dates
on two of the issues related to conventional weapons covered in
the original FCO Memorandum.
The First Committee of the United Nations General
Assembly discussed the issues surrounding a possible Arms Trade
Treaty (ATT) during its October meeting in New York. On 31 October,
delegations voted on a resolution calling for further work on
the ATT. This resolution had been co-authored by the UK with six
other states (Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan
and Kenya). The resolution passed with overwhelming support, with
147 states voting in favour (nearly 90% of those present)
and only two states voting against (the USA and Zimbabwe). The
resolution called for the UN to continue the work towards an ATT
by convening a series of Open Ended Working Groups, open to all
UN Member States, which will meet in the first half of 2009. These
meetings will work to establish areas of agreement on the possible
scope and parameters for a treaty. The General Assembly Plenary
is scheduled to endorse this vote in December.
The Foreign Secretary is due to sign the Convention
on Cluster Munitions on behalf of the UK at the signing ceremony
in Oslo on 3 December. The Government is committed to ratification
as soon as feasible thereafter.
On a separate track, the final Group of Government
Experts' Meeting and the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention
on Certain Conventional Weapons both took place in Geneva in November.
Despite being unable to reach consensus on a new Protocol on cluster
munitions, some progress was made and States Parties agreed that
negotiations should continue under a clearer mandate with a view
to reaching a conclusion as early as possible in 2009.
9 December 2008