ACA Applauds UNGA Support for New Arms Trade Treaty

Urges President Obama to Sign Promptly

For Immediate Release: April 2, 2013, 2pm EST            
Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association, 202-463-8270, ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)--Today, the independent, Arms Control Association welcomed the United Nations General Assembly's endorsement of the new Arms Trade Treaty, which will for the first time establish common international standards that must be met before states authorize transfers of conventional weapons or export ammunition and weapons parts and components. The treaty will be open for signature beginning in June.

The vote was 155 in support, 3 opposed, and 22 abstentions. The treaty will be open for signature beginning June 3.

"The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) represents an important, historic step forward in dealing with the unregulated and illicit global trade in conventional weapons and ammunition, which fuels wars and human rights abuses worldwide," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"We commend the strong leadership of the United States and other treaty supporters to move forward on the new Arms Trade Treaty, which will strengthen, global security, raise the standards for global arms transfers, and help to fulfill our responsibility to protect civilians from armed conflict," Kimball said.

"The United States played a key role in shaping this historic global Arms Trade Treaty. Now, President Obama can help build support for the treaty and move it closer toward entry into force by agreeing to be among the first world leaders to sign the pact," he said.

The Arms Trade Treaty:

  • requires states to establish regulations for arms imports and exports in eight major categories: battle tanks; armored combat vehicles; large-calibre artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships; missiles and missile launchers; and small arms and light weapons;
  • requires states to assess the potential that the transfer "could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law" and "international human rights law," terrorism, organized crime, and take into account the risk of serious acts of gender-based violence or acts of violence against women and children. If there is an overriding risk of any of these negative consequences, states are required not to authorize the export;
  • prohibits transfers of arms or exports of ammunition or weapons parts & components if the state "has knowledge" that the transfer would be used in the commission of "genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians, or other war crimes;"
  • requires that all states establish effective regulations on the export of ammunition and weapons parts & components, which often allow conflicts to continue long after original arms transfers have been executed;
  • requires regular, annual reporting on all arms transfers, which would help improve transparency and public accountability for states' actions; and
  • calls for regular conferences of states parties to review implementation of the treaty and developments in the field of conventional arms, which should allow states to consider new types of conventional weapons that may emerge.

"The treaty's prohibition section, if it were in force today, would prohibit the ongoing supply of weapons and parts & components to the Assad regime in Syria," Kimball noted.

"At the outset of the negotiations, several states opposed the inclusion of ammunition in the treaty in any way. The end result on ammunition is a net plus," Kimball said.

"Going forward, the value of the treaty depends on prompt entry into force and effective implementation by member states, especially the major arms exporting states," Kimball said.  

"Over time, the treaty will help tip the scales in favor human rights and human security when states consider arms sales in the future. It will help close the gaps in the current international system by requiring countries to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons and ammunition in and out of their borders and for arms brokering," Kimball said.

"The Arms Trade Treaty was negotiated by hardworking diplomats with support from key government leaders, but it would not have happened without years of work and campaigning by human rights organization including Amnesty International, development and aid groups such as Oxfam, religious leaders, and security experts from around the world that were brought together through the Control Arms campaign," Kimball said.


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.