Towards an Arms Trade Treaty

Next steps for the UN Programme of Action


Published: 4 July 2005

There is an imperative need for an international Arms Trade Treaty, based on fundamental principles of international law, to reduce the human cost of arms proliferation, prevent unscrupulous weapons suppliers finding the weakest point in the supply chain, and ensure that all arms exporters are working to the same standards.

The ultimate goal is a firm and unambiguous international mechanism to prohibit the transfer of weapons and ammunition to places where they are likely to be used for serious abuses of human rights, or to violate international humanitarian law. Such a treaty would not hinder responsible trade, but it would prevent defence exports from undermining international security and prosperity. The UN Biennial Meeting of States on preventing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in New York in July 2005 offers a vital opportunity for making progress towards the achievement of this goal.