Chinas accession to the arms trade treaty and maintenance of multilateral arms control

category:Military
 Chinas accession to the arms trade treaty and maintenance of multilateral arms control


Early warning aircraft model on display at Zhuhai Air Show

On June 20, the 19th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National Peoples Congress voted to adopt the decision of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress on accession to the arms trade treaty and decided to accede to the treaty. This marks that Chinas accession to the treaty process has basically completed its domestic legal procedures. It is a demonstration of Chinas determination to uphold the international arms control treaty system, actively build a community of shared future for mankind, and actively participate in global governance with a responsible attitude.

In fact, as the first international treaty to restrict the conventional arms trade under the framework of the United Nations, the arms trade treaty has experienced an important change in its membership in the past year, which will undoubtedly have an important impact on the implementation of the treaty and the prospects of the international conventional arms arms arms control system.

The arms trade treaty

In May 2018, UN Secretary General Guterres pointed out in the new disarmament agenda that the illegal trade and proliferation of conventional weapons have brought increasingly severe challenges to the international conventional arms control system and become one of the important sources of human insecurity.

Since the end of the cold war, conventional weapons have always played an important role in armed conflicts, seriously threatening regional and global peace and security. In recent years, the illegal proliferation of conventional weapons, especially small and light weapons, has intensified regional conflicts, affected the peace process and post-war reconstruction, contributed to the spread of terrorism and transnational organized crime, and seriously threatened the realization of the 2030 sustainable development goals of the United Nations. It has become an international consensus to regulate the global conventional arms trade and strengthen the control of light and small arms trade, which is imminent.

In order to prevent and eliminate the illicit trade in conventional weapons and prevent its diversion, the United Nations voted to adopt the arms trade treaty on April 2, 2013 at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The treaty entered into force on December 24, 2014, with 106 States parties to date.

There are 28 articles in the whole text of the arms trade treaty, which set up unified international standards for the scope of supervision, trade mode, management requirements, dispute settlement, etc. of conventional weapons. The treaty promotes the construction of the control system of conventional weapons in the international community and is of great significance to effectively curb or even eliminate the illegal trade in conventional weapons. Firstly, the treaty has expanded the scope of supervision on conventional weapons, including small and light weapons; secondly, the treaty helps to promote and improve the establishment of policies and laws, regulatory agencies and law enforcement effects for conventional weapons by States parties; thirdly, the treaty encourages States parties to carry out international cooperation in intelligence and law enforcement, and proposes to establish funds, strengthen international assistance, and promote the construction of compliance with laws and regulations Fans international trade order in conventional arms.

The United States government signed the arms trade treaty in 2013. However, the trump government announced its withdrawal from signing the Treaty on April 26, 2019, based on different views on the treaty and the influence of domestic political factors, which aroused wide attention of the international community.

What is the positive significance of Chinas accession to the arms trade treaty?

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible power, China has always attached great importance to and concerned about the illegal transfer of conventional weapons, and Chinas accession to the treaty has a good foundation.

On the one hand, China has been actively participating in the construction of the international conventional arms control system for a long time, and has always played a positive and constructive role. China has actively implemented the United Nations Programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects and the international instruments to enable all countries to identify and trace the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in a timely manner. China has actively participated in the work of successive governmental expert groups of the United Nations Register of conventional arms and is a party to the CCW and its additional protocols In addition, China has participated in the negotiation process of the arms trade treaty and participated as an observer Subsequent meetings of States parties.

On the other hand, Chinas military export management policy is basically consistent with the purposes and objectives of the arms trade treaty. China has always taken a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms exports. Chinas existing three principles of arms exports are conducive to the legitimate self-defense capacity of the receiving country, not damaging the peace, security and stability of the relevant regions and the world, and not interfering in the internal affairs of the receiving country. This is consistent with the purpose of the arms trade treaty to promote international and regional peace, security and stability and reduce human suffering. Unlike some big arms exporting countries, China has always only carried out arms trade cooperation with sovereign countries, which is higher than the standards set by the treaty. Chinas determination to actively participate in the international conventional arms control system and its strict and complete military export management system have laid a solid foundation for Chinas accession to the treaty.

Chinas accession to the treaty is of great significance for maintaining the international arms control system and improving the regional security situation. At present, the existing international arms control and non-proliferation system is facing increasingly severe challenges. In this context, as a legally binding treaty under the framework of the United Nations, the arms trade treaty plays an increasingly important role in the international arms control rules system. Chinas accession will enhance the implementation capacity of the treaty in the field of international cooperation and assistance, promote the normal operation of multilateral mechanisms in the field of international conventional arms control, and thus improve the governance effectiveness of the international arms control system. At the same time, many countries in the world have not established a sound military export control system, or although it has been established, it has not been strictly and effectively implemented. China has constantly improved its export assessment mechanism, promoted the establishment of an import and export control system in line with international norms by importing countries, further enhanced the effectiveness of the treatys regulation of international conventional arms trade, strengthened the international communitys efforts to combat the illegal trade in conventional arms, improved the security situation in the region and alleviated the humanitarian problems caused by the proliferation of weapons, so as to maintain international peace and stability Make a positive contribution.

Contribute to the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind

Chinas accession to the arms trade treaty is not only a Chinese measure to maintain the multilateral arms control mechanism, but also an important practice to actively promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind, and an important contribution to world peace and development.

In April 2019, according to Xinhua news agency, Xi Jinping, President of the United Nations, said at the meeting with UN Secretary General Guterres that China firmly upheld multilateralism and firmly maintained the international system at the core of the UN, firmly upheld the international order based on international law and promoted the building of a community of human destiny.

At present, the international pattern is undergoing profound and complex changes, and the governance of vacuum and chaos is becoming increasingly severe. In particular, in recent years, the United States government has repeatedly broken contracts and retreated from the community, shirking international responsibility and seriously impacting the international order based on international law. In this context, Chinas accession to the arms trade treaty, with practical actions to promote the construction of a standardized and reasonable arms trade order, demonstrates Chinas determination to firmly support the multilateral arms control mechanism and actively build an important concept of a community with a shared future for mankind. It also shows once again that China is willing to be a ballast stone and builder for the stability of the international system and promote the development of the international order and the global governance system towards a more equitable and just direction.

(the author is director and researcher of nonproliferation and strategic trade control of China Association for arms control and disarmament)