UN Photo/Shafiqullah Waak

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Virtually all international trade in goods is regulated. But no globally agreed standards exist for the international arms trade. The result can be the misuse of transferred weaponry by government forces, or diversion of arms into illegal markets, where they end up in the hands of criminals, gangs, war lords and terrorists.


 

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Repairing the damage caused by crime, gang violence or piracy - often fueled by reckless arms and ammunition transfers - vastly exceeds the initial financial profits of selling weapons. United Nations Peacekeeping alone costs the world $7 billion per year, and the global annual burden of armed violence stands at $400 billion. Without adequate regulation of international arms transfers and high common standards to guide national export decisions, the human tolls and financial costs will remain colossal.


UN Photo/Sophia Paris

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

A dire consequence of inadequate controls on arms transfers and the ensuing widespread availability and misuse of weapons is the frequent obstruction of life-saving humanitarian operations. Threats and actual attacks against staff from the United Nations and from other humanitarian organizations have multiplied. Between 2000 and 2010, around 800 humanitarian workers were killed in armed attacks and close to 700 were injured.


 

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Since the 1990s, civil society organizations have urged governments to take action. As a result, in 2009 the General Assembly decided to convene a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012 "to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms". Four sessions of Preparatory Committee meetings have already been held. The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs provides support to the process.


UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty Conference will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 2-27 July 2012. Negotiations will be carried out by the 193 Member States of the UN. In addition, hundreds of representatives from non-governmental organizations, public interest groups, the arms industry, media and inter-governmental organizations will attend.

 

UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

The ATT will not:

  • Interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession
  • Ban, or prohibit the export of, any type of weapons
  • Impair States' legitimate right to self-defence
  • Lower arms regulation standards in countries where these are already at a high level.

An Arms Trade Treaty will aim to create a level playing field for international arms transfers by requiring all States to abide by a set of standards for transfer controls, which will ultimately benefit the safety and security of people everywhere in the world.