MEDIA ADVISORY: Arms Experts Join Civil Society Call for Strong U.S. Leadership at ATT PrepCom

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For immediate release: July 6, 2010

Media contacts: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director (202) 463-8270 x 109; Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x 107.

(Washington, D.C.) Experts from the Arms Control Association joined with leaders of 31 national organizations urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to take a bold approach in preparatory committee meetings on a legally binding arms trade treaty (ATT) set to begin next week.

The letter, delivered July 1, calls for U.S. leadership in an ATT process that would include strong export criteria, an inclusive scope, and a strong civil society role. In it, signatories recommend that Clinton “seize this opportunity and demonstrate ambitious U.S. leadership toward securing a strong treaty.”

“As the world’s top conventional arms exporter with one of the most thorough export control systems, the United States stands to benefit more than any other country from bringing global standards up to a high level via an arms trade treaty,” said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.

A strong ATT would make the legal trade of conventional weapons more transparent with the intention of stemming the flow of weapons to irresponsible end users and ultimately saving innocent lives. It could also help law enforcement and intelligence officials better identify criminal actors engaged in illicit arms trade.

"The loopholes and inconsistencies that leave the international arms trade virtually unregulated must be addressed in a robust arms trade treaty,” Abramson added.

“Some of the world’s worst suffering is caused by the irresponsible trade in conventional arms; a tragedy that calls for the comprehensive approach advocated in our letter,” said ACA Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball.

In 2009, the United States decided for the first time to support the ATT process, voting for UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48 that set up preparatory committee meetings in 2010 and 2011, leading up to a 2012 UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. That conference is to be “undertaken in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus, to achieve a strong and robust treaty,” according to the resolution.

In 2006, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 61/89, entitled "Toward an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms." The resolution led to the submission of views from approximately 100 states on the feasibility and parameters for a treaty, as well as the establishment of a group of governmental experts. In December 2008, the General Assembly passed Resolution 63/240 establishing an open-ended working group to meet for six one-week sessions during 2009-2011. The United States voted against both resolutions.

One reason cited by U.S. representatives for voting "no" in 2008 was that the resolution did not state that work be done on a consensus basis. Nonetheless, U.S. representatives did participate in group of governmental exports and open-ended working group meetings established by the 2006 and 2008 resolutions.

Relevant Resources:

Letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton, July 1, 2010 (PDF):

Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, October 14, 2009:

Statement by Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher, Feb 18, 2010:

Arms Trade Treaty resource page: