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Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
NGOs Urge President Obama to Sign Global Arms Trade Treaty
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U.S. Signature Needed to Advance Global Arms Trade Treaty
Non-governmental Organizations Urge President Obama to Provide Leadership

For Immediate Release: September 24, 2013
Media Contact: Tim Farnsworth, Program Assoc./Communications Coordinator 202-463-8270, ext. 105

(Washington, D.C.)-As President Barack Obama and other world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, a wide array of human rights, development, religious, and security organizations are urging the United States to sign the new Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

In a letter sent to the White House last month, the leaders of 33 national organizations congratulated the Obama administration for "helping to successfully conclude negotiations for an effective Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year." Signatories to the letter to President Obama to sign include: Amnesty International USA, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Association of Evangelicals.

U.S. signature of the ATT, they write, "would be a powerful step demonstrating the United States' commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict around the globe."

The ATT 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. It will close loopholes in export controls in key countries and improve law enforcement efforts to crack down on the illicit arms market.

The ATT also prohibits arms transfer authorizations to states if the state "has the knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items 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 protected as such, or other war crimes."

In June when the treaty was first opened for signature, the Obama administration signaled its support but did not sign, citing the need to ensure the text of the treaty was consistently translated in all of the official UN languages. U.S. signature would build momentum toward the treaty's entry into force and will put pressure on other major arms exporting states, including Russia, and China, and arms buyers, including India, to join the treaty.

Several resources on the ATT are available from the Arms Control Association:

ACA experts are available for interviews:

  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, ACA (202-463-8270 x107); and
  • Rachel Stohl, senior associate, Stimson Center; member of ACA Board of Directors; and former consultant to the president of the ATT diplomatic conference (202-464-2679).

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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding and effective policies to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons: nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as certain types of conventional weapons that pose a threat to noncombatants. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.