In recent years states have increasingly begun to recognize that the regulation of the international trade in conventional arms is a necessary and essential component of national and international security.
National systems have been established and enhanced, and a number of regional agreements have been adopted, with a marked level of commonality across these agreements. Still, the network of systems is incomplete and the patchwork that currently exists raises the risk of loopholes being used to permit potentially dangerous international arms transfers. Developing solid national systems for the control of international transfers of arms is a concern for all countries worldwide.
As states move forward with an Arms Trade Treaty, some of these loopholes may be eliminated. However, even with an ATT, states will still be required to make national decisions concerning arms transfers – whether to allow a transfer and how to implement their various national procedures. An ATT will set specific minimum standards that all states will be expected to incorporate into their national laws and processes.
This practical guide is intended to assist states in meeting their future obligations under a treaty. However, irrespective of the ATT, the guide is available for states' use to enhance and develop their national systems.
States are continually updating and putting in place the building blocks for an effective national system. These building blocks are essential for effective transfer controls, at both the national and global levels, and should be taken into account regardless of the ATT process. Once an Arms Trade Treaty is negotiated, states that have developed comprehensive national transfer control systems will be better placed to effectively and efficiently implement the ATT.