The Arms Trade Treaty
On 2 April 2013, the General Assembly adopted the landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. The treaty will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions. It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools.
Significance for the UN
Working to improve lives and livelihoods around the world, the United Nations system is directly confronted with the impact of the absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade.
Those suffering most are civilian populations trapped in situations of armed violence in settings of both crime and conflict, often in conditions of poverty, deprivation and extreme inequality, where they are all too frequently on the receiving end of the misuse of arms by State armed and security forces, non-State armed groups and organized criminal groups.
The Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013
Small arms are the weapons of choice in modern-day intra-State armed conflict and armed violence. But heavier categories of weapons are being used against civilians as well. Therefore, it is important for the United Nations that the Arms Trade Treaty covers all conventional arms, and their ammunition.
A dire consequence of inadequate controls on arms transfers and the ensuing widespread availability and misuse of weapons, is the frequent suspension or delay of life-saving humanitarian and development operations because of attacks against staff of the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations.
Be it in maintaining international peace and security, promoting social and economic development, supporting peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding efforts, monitoring sanctions and arms embargoes, delivering food aid or helping internally displaced persons and refugees, protecting children and civilians, promoting gender equality or fostering the rule of law, the United Nations have faced serious setbacks that ultimately can be traced to the consequences of the poorly regulated arms trade.
That is why the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is so significant for the UN system as a whole.
Making ATT implementation possible
State parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) “may seek assistance” in implementing the Treaty. Each State Party may request, offer or receive assistance through, inter alia, the United Nations. Article 16.3 of the ATT indicates that a voluntary trust fund is to be established by States Parties for that purpose.
In anticipation, the United Nations, in close cooperation with a growing number of States, has launched a trust facility to kick-start advocacy, universalisation and implementation of the ATT. Learn more about the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).