European Parliament resolution on UN Arms Trade Treaty

The European Parliament voted today on a resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that will be negotiated at a major UN conference in New York on 2 – 27 July.

The ATT is a potential ground-breaking humanitarian treaty that would regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. There is currently no effective international legislation on the global arms trade. Yet armed violence kills over 2,000 people every day.

Nicolas Vercken, Oxfam’s spokesperson, said:

“The European Parliament sent a strong signal to the rest of the world that bold ambition is needed to stop the trade flows of arms going into the wrong hands. However, MEPs failed to propose robust and legally-binding criteria to make sure that every single arms transfer does not have a negative impact on the socio-economic development of the recipient country.

“On the positive side, MEPs called for anti-corruption criteria to be part of the global deal and for all signatories to publicly report every year on all their arms trade deals.

“EU Foreign Ministers, meeting later this month, must give the green light to a strong European stance for the UN talks which ensures a global deal that helps save lives, prevent human rights abuses, and protect the livelihoods of women, men and children around the world.

“It is shocking that we have the most complex and strict rules on all sorts of products from bananas to iPods, but no global rules for trading tanks, machine guns and bullets. This needs to change.”

Today Oxfam launched Armed Robbery, a new report arguing that the illicit and irresponsible global trade in arms and ammunition weakens the ability of governments to sustain progress in development. The paper says that military expenditure in fragile and conflict-affected countries grew by 15 per cent between 2009 and 2010, while Official Development Assistance (ODA) grew by only 9 per cent.

Notes to Editors

  • European Parliament media release: Parliament calls on UN states to report publicly on all arms trade deals
  • Why do we need a global Arms Trade Treaty?

    The poorly regulated global trade in conventional arms and ammunition fuels conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. Every day, we see the problems of irresponsible arms transfers in conflicts where Europe is investing much in trying to find a solution, such as Syria, Sudan and Congo.

    Millions of people suffer, every day, from the direct and indirect consequences of the irresponsible and unregulated arms trade: hundreds are killed, far more people are injured, many are forced to flee from their homes, while many others have to live under constant threat of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

    Patchy, diverse and often completely absent national regulations have failed to adapt to the increasingly globalized nature of the arms trade. Arms companies, operating from an increasing number of locations, now source components from across the world. Their products are often assembled in countries with lax controls on where they end up.

    While existing national and regional controls are important, these are not enough to stop irresponsible transfers of arms and ammunition between countries. Gaps and legal loopholes can too easily be exploited by unscrupulous governments or unscrupulous arms dealers, allowing arms to be transferred into the wrong hands.

    The volume of deliveries of major conventional weapons to states in Africa increased by 110 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11. Deliveries to sub-Saharan Africa increased by 20 per cent, but deliveries to North Africa increased by 273 per cent.

    Nearly one million of the 7–8 million firearms produced every year are lost or stolen.

Contact information: 

Angela Corbalan on or +32 (0)473 56 22 60