Getting it Right

The pieces that matter for the Arms Trade Treaty

Arms and bullets continue to destroy lives. Every continent in the world is marred by devastation caused by armed violence. Yet there is still no effective international regulation of the global arms trade.

The need for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which will create globally binding regulation of the international trade in conventional weapons for the first time, is greater than ever. Negotiators at the second and final Diplomatic Conference in March 2013 must deliver a treaty text that holds countries to the highest standards.

History shows that the most effective treaties are born from strong, comprehensive standards, established from the very outset. Treaties with weak provisions – no matter how broad their support – rarely become stronger over time. Even where important countries do not sign them, strong treaties have a positive influence on the actions of non-signatories. But some countries are prioritizing universal agreement on the text, and are willing to accept a draft treaty riddled with loopholes. If the ATT is really to make a difference in transforming the global arms trade, the second and final Diplomatic Conference must produce a treaty text that holds countries to the highest standards.

This paper highlights the missing pieces that must be in the treaty text, if it is to save lives and protect people.

Key recommendations:

  • The Scope of the treaty must be fully comprehensive. It must control all types of conventional weapons, ammunition and munitions, and parts and components. It must also cover all the ways in which international arms transfers take place.
  • The Criteria of the treaty must be robust, and ensure that arms must not be transferred if there is a substantial risk that they would be used to commit serious violations of International Human Rights Law or International Humanitarian Law, exacerbate armed violence and conflict – including gender-based armed violence – encourage corruption, or undermine development.
  • The Implementation provisions must ensure that public reporting on all transfers is an obligation on member states, and that activities such as brokering are carefully and comprehensively covered.
  • The Final Provisions must ensure rapid entry-into-force of the treaty, and define amendment provisions that allow the States Parties to revisit the treaty over time.


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