Another step towards ratification

Lower house committee approves text of Arms Trade Treaty

09/05/2017 arms att cspcco lower house lower house of congress

The Public Security and Combat of Organized Crime Committee of the Lower House of Congress approved on Tuesday, September 5, the report of Congressman Lincoln Portela endorsing the ratification of the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty). 

This should be the last house committee to analyze the text, but on August 24 Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro submitted a request to send it back to the Economic Development Committee. If it is accepted, the request will delay the passage of the bill to ratify the treaty. If it is not, the bill will proceed for a vote on the house floor.

Although Brazil was one of the first countries to sign the ATT, in 2013, the ratification of the treaty is making slow progress in the lower house. The treaty is the first to regulate international trade of conventional arms and munitions. According to data collected from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, since the country signed the ATT, it has exported more than US$1.46 billion in arms and munitions to 111 different countries.

Next Monday, September 11, marks the start of the 3rd Conference of States Parties, which will gather States that have already joined the treaty, but Brazil will only be able to participate as an observer. Although the country is the world’s fourth largest exporter of small arms, it can only participate fully in the debate after it completes the ratification process.

“There is still a long way to go before the ATT is finally ratified by the Brazilian State. We hope the passage occurs quickly so Brazil does not have to take a back seat, but can play a more prominent role in the discussions. Moreover, it’s important that the government can be taken to task for reports of Brazilian-made arms being used in situations of serious human rights violations,” said Jefferson Nascimento, adviser to the Foreign Policy program at Conectas Human Rights.

The ratification of the ATT by Brazil would give the national arms industry the seal of approval as a responsible exporter. By submitting to the treaty’s regulation, the country would agree, among other things, to publish transparent annual reports on the volume and destination of its arms exports. It would also have to adopt more rigorous standards for authorizing exports, in order to prevent Brazilian arms and munitions from being used to violate human rights and fuel transnational crimes and terrorism in other countries. Moreover, the treaty contains provisions that prevent the illegal reentry of arms to Brazil, which often fuels urban violence in our country.

Today, Brazil has one of the world’s most secretive arms export policies, known as Pnemem (National Export Policy for Military Equipment), which was established during the military dictatorship and whose content is secret. 

According to the UN, Brazilian-made non-lethal weapons were being used in Ivory Coast, a country that since 2004 has been under an arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council. Flaws in the risk analysis process caused the authorization, by the Brazilian government, of a shipment of 8,000 handguns to Yemen via one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers just three months before the country was placed under embargo. Yemen has been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 2015.