Arms Treaty Text Emerges from UN Talks

Arms Control Group Says Good Agreement Within Sight

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2012

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, ACA (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the first consolidated draft text of a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) emerged from arduous negotiations at the United Nations. Governments have just three days to narrow any remaining differences before the conference concludes on July 27.

"The text that has emerged contains several loopholes that should be closed to improve the treaty, but on the whole the document now under consideration provides a solid basis for agreement by all responsible states. With further work in the remaining hours, a good Arms Trade Treaty is within sight," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association.

"We urge the major supplier states to work with others, including those most affected by violence fueled by illicit arms dealing, to provide the leadership and flexibility to close the gaps in their respective positions and to reach agreement by Friday's deadline," said Kimball.

The July 24 treaty text issued today would require all states to establish national regulations on conventional arms transfers and brokering and require that states not authorize transfers that would violate arms embargoes, that would facilitate acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. The treaty draft now before the negotiators would also require states to regulate munitions so that their transfer will not circumvent the goals of the treaty.

The treaty text would also require states to evaluate whether arms transfers would be used to violate humanitarian law, international human rights law, be used by terrorists or organized crime, and if there is a substantial risk the transfer would do so, the treaty would oblige states not to authorize the transfer.

"The current text, however, should clarify that the treaty pertains to all types of arms 'transfers' (not simply arms exports) and clarify that the conventional weapons categories listed in the 'scope' section is illustrative and not exhaustive. The treaty should not, as the text currently suggests, allow multi-year weapons contracts to continue even if states know the weapons will be used for war crimes," Kimball urged. 

"With these adjustments, the Arms Trade Treaty can make a substantial difference in reducing the harm created by the illicit arms trade and it deserves the Obama administration's support," Kimball suggested.

Today, only 90 countries report having basic regulations on the international transfer of small arms and light weapons. Only 56 countries control arms brokers and only 25 have criminal penalties associated with illicit brokering. Worldwide, at least 400,000 people are killed by illegal small arms and light weapons each year, according to the U.K. government.

"The July 24 treaty text goes a long way toward meeting the United States' concerns on key issues, including ammunition and the criteria that states must evaluate before authorizing conventional arms transfers," Kimball said.

As Secretary of State Clinton outlined in remarks today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial on preventing the mass slaughter of civilians, the United States and others must put a new emphasis on prevention. As she said we can "directly pressure those who organize atrocities and cut off the resources they need to continue their violence."

"An effective Arms Trade Treaty would help fill a gap in the international security architecture and help protect innocent civilians. The treaty can't stop all illicit arms transfers and won't stop all civilian deaths in conflict, but it can substantially reduce the human toll by making it harder and more expensive for weapons buyers and suppliers to flout common sense standards," Kimball argued.

"If by week's end, a few states try to block consensus agreement on a robust Arms Trade Treaty, we would urge the vast majority of states who do support the ATT to seek endorsement by the UN General Assembly and to open the treaty for signature," Kimball suggested.



The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.