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Nation-by-Nation Review Analysis – Assessing the effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty, Part 1

As part of AOAV’s Nation-by-Nation Review, data was collected on all States to better understand the impact of the ATT on the explosive weapon use and transfer of Parties, Signatories and those States which are neither. Areas examined included the transfer of explosive weapons and systems that launch them, the total values of state arms imports and exports, explosive weapons use and civilian harm, as well as EWIPA commitments. In this section, AOAV will share some of the findings of this review and try to understand what this indicates regarding the ATT’s impact on manufactured explosive weapon harm.

Read the full report here

Explosive weapon use

Of ATT States Parties, the vast majority, 89% (99 of the 111), have not been responsible for casualties from manufactured explosive weapons since the Treaty entered into force.

Of those states which are signatories, 73% (22 of 30) have not been responsible for casualties from manufactured explosive weapons since the Treaty entered into force. Among those neither Party nor signatory, this falls to 62%.

From further comparison, examining casualties from manufactured explosive weapons between 2011-2014 and 2015-2018, we found that when you compared the proportion of non-signatories who caused civilian harm from manufactured explosive weapons with the proportion of ratified States responsible for such harm, non-signatories were 71% more likely to have harmed civilians.

States not signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty were more than three times as likely to have been responsible for causing civilian casualties from explosive weapons since 2015, compared to states that had ratified the treaty.

On average, States Parties to the ATT were responsible for nine civilian casualties per nation from explosive weapons (between 2011 and 2018). Those states not signatory to the ATT were behind an average of 823 civilians harmed per state from such weapon use – a significant 9000% difference.

Furthermore, we found that nine out of ten (90% – 100) States Parties saw zero civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons between 2012 and 2018.

In addition, when further examining casualties from manufactured explosive weapons between 2011-2014 and 2015-2018, it was also found that of those that had used explosive weapons, three (3%) saw a decrease in civilian casualties after the ATT entered into force. Eight (7%) saw an increase in civilian casualties. Though of those that saw an increase, five became Party to the ATT after 2014. Comparatively, of the 58 states that are neither Parties nor signatories of the ATT, 39 (67%) saw zero civilian casualties from manufactured explosive weapons in both periods, six (10%) saw a decrease after the ATT entered into force, and 13 (22%) saw an increase.

Those who are Party to the ATT have also directly caused far fewer total civilian casualties from their use of manufactured explosive weapons than those that are only signatories or not party. In total, those that are Party to the ATT caused at least 964, or an average of nine per Party. Those that are Signatories caused 13,521, an average of 451. And, those that are not party caused at least 47,728, an average of 823 per state.

It seems that ATT states are less likely to be responsible for civilian casualties from manufactured explosive weapons than signatories or others that are not Party to the Treaty.

Explosive weapon transfers

The arms transfers of those Party to the ATT and those that are signatories or not Party to the Treaty are compared in more details on section of this report examining weapons exports: ‘Who is providing arms?’ However, it is worth additionally noting here that, according to SIPRI data, that there seems to be little difference in which states supply explosive weapons, with around 30% of all states in each group, whether Party to the Treaty, signatory, or neither, having exported explosive weapons or systems that launch them.

However, the quantities, types and to which states they are supplied is of greater concern. It is very difficult to measure the levels of harm caused by specific transfers but the case studies in this report help shed further light.

Further, AOAV conducted additional analysis of 12 states which signed and ratified the ATT by the end of 2014 and which had also transferred explosive weapons between 2012 and 2017.[i] AOAV examined the exports of explosive weapons and systems that launch them from these 12 states for the years between 2012-2014 and 2015-2017, to understand what was exported, to whom and if there were any noticeable changes after the ATT entered into force for these states.

Of these 12, all the explosive weapon-related transfers of three states were considered to pose no risk in terms of civilian harm.[ii] A further five were regarded as low risk, with the transfers not linked to significant levels of harm.[iii] The remaining four were deemed high risk, with transfers to states participating in conflict, who had consistently utilised explosive weapons in populated areas.[iv] Two of these were exceptionally high risk, with the actual explosive weapon type transferred associated with considerable levels of civilian harm and consistent use of these weapons in populated areas.[v]

Though, this examination found few remarkable differences between transfers before and after the ATT entering into force in most of the states examined. This may be due to the likelihood that many of these states already had legislation in place guiding exports that conformed to their interpretation of the ATT prior to 2014, with the process of formally developing the ATT beginning as far back as 2006.

EWIPA commitments

It is useful to note that those that are Party to the ATT, have been more likely to acknowledge the harm caused by the use of EWIPA over the last decade.[vi] Throughout the process towards a political declaration on EWIPA, 106 of the 111 States Parties to the ATT acknowledged this harm by October 2022, or 95% of those Party to the ATT. Among signatories to the ATT this falls to 57%, though among those which are neither Party nor signatory to the ATT, this stands at 64%.

When it comes to those which were considered committed to action on EWIPA by October 2022, such as through the political declaration, the number of ATT States Parties falls to 90 of the 111, or 81%. Though this still remains markedly higher than commitment to action among signatories 57% and those neither Party nor signatory, 38%.

This seems to indicate the commitment among ATT States Parties to prevent harm from the use of explosive weapons. Indeed, the key advocates for a political declaration on EWIPA have all been Party to the ATT,[vii] and of the 26 States which by June 2022 had already expressed their intention to sign the declaration, or that they are working towards that decision, 25 are Party to the ATT and the last is a signatory.[viii]

The signing conference for the Political Declaration on EWIPA took place in Dublin in November 2022. Of the 82 states that signed the Declaration,[ix] 64 (78%) were Parties to the ATT, a further nine were signatories and 9 were not party to the ATT.

ATT States Parties were far more likely to have signed the political declaration than signatories and those that have neither signed nor ratified the ATT. Though whether this will lead to greater action to prevent civilian harm from EWIPA by the declaration signatories remains to be seen.

Indications

The above seems to indicate that those States which are Party to the ATT are less likely to be responsible for direct civilian harm from manufactured explosive weapons, more likely to be concerned about such harm and are more likely to engage in efforts to address this harm.

While they are just as likely to be exporters of explosive weapons, this data cannot speak to the harm caused by these transfers, though it could be inferred by the above that such transfers would be more likely to consider this harm. The case studies in the following sections should help to identify if this is the case.

Army Spc. Joshua Barrios, loads a new computerized round into his 120 mm mortar system, 8 February 2012 (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment). Source: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/826177/40th-cavalry- regiment-soldier-loads-120-mm-mortar-round

Navigate the report:

Assessing the effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty – Executive Summary

Part 1: Nation-by-nation review analysis

Part 2: Who is causing the most harm?

Part 3: Who is providing arms?

Part 4: Thematic examination

Part 5: Conclusion

Part 6: Recommendations 

Part 7: Case studies – Myanmar’s military

Part 8: Case studies – Saudi Arabia in Yemen

Part 9: Case studies – Non-state armed groups in the Philippines

Part 10: Case studies – the Taliban

Part 11: Case studies – China before and after ATT accession

Part 12: Case studies – the United Kingdom, from key ATT architect to key violator?


[i] These states were: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa and Spain.

[ii] These were Austria, Belgium and Hungary.

[iii] Germany, Poland, Romania, South Africa and Spain.

[iv] Bulgaria, France, Serbia and Slovakia.

[v] France and Serbia.

[vi] Please see INEW’s documentation of State Responses here: https://www.inew.org/political-response/ (accessed 20 Oct 2022)

[vii] Davies, G. and Spencer, A. (2022) Collaborative advocacy on the protection of civilians: Children and armed conflict and explosive weapons in populated areas. HPG report. London: ODI https://www.globalprotectioncluster.org/sites/default/files/2022-09/report_collaborative_advoacy_on_the_protection_of_civilians-caac_ewipa.pdf (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[viii] INEW, ‘States agree final text of political declaration on the use of explosive weapons’, 17 June 2022, https://www.inew.org/states-agree-final-text-of-political-declaration-on-the-use-of-explosive-weapons/ (accessed 07 Jan 2023)[ix] The 82 states which signed the Political Declaration on EWIPA are: 1. Albania 2. Andorra 3. Argentina 4. Australia 5. Austria 6. Belgium 7. Brazil 8. Bulgaria 9. Cabo Verde 10. Cambodia 11. Canada 12. Central African Republic 13. Chile 14. Colombia 15. Comoros 16. Costa Rica 17. Cote d’Ivoire 18. Croatia 19. Cyprus 20. Czech Republic 21. Denmark 22. Dominican Republic 23. Ecuador 24. El Salvador 25. Finland 26. France 27. Georgia 28. Germany 29. Greece 30. Guatemala 31. Guyana 32. Holy See 33. Hungary 34. Iceland 35. Indonesia 36. Ireland 37. Italy 38. Japan 39. Kenya 40. Kiribati 41. Kuwait 42. Laos 43. Liberia 44. Liechtenstein 45. Luxembourg 46. Madagascar 47. Malawi 48. Malaysia 49. Malta 50. Mexico 51. Maldives 52. Monaco 53. Morocco 54. Netherlands 55. New Zealand 56. Norway 57. Palau 58. Palestine 59. Peru 60. Philippines 61. Portugal 62. Qatar 63. Republic of Korea 64. Republic of Moldova 65. Romania 66. Saint Kitts and Nevis 67. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 68. San Marino 69. Senegal 70. Serbia 71. Sierra Leone 72. Slovakia 73. Slovenia 74. Somalia 75. Spain 76. Sweden 77. Switzerland 78. Togo 79. Türkiye 80. United Kingdom 81. United States of America 82. Uruguay