UNODA Update

UN stands before its biggest undertaking ever in the area of conventional arms

2 July 2012 — For the next four weeks, the United Nations will be the stage for the biggest and potentially most consequential undertaking ever in the area of conventional arms regulation. All countries of the world are coming together to seek agreement on standards for assessing if an arms export should be given a go-ahead, making it harder for weapons to be used in conflict and human rights abuses, to be diverted to conflict zones and illegal markets, and into the hands of terrorists, warlords, drug traffickers or criminal cartels.

Standard-setting on this rather sensitive topic — with key security and economic interests at play — has never been attempted before. Some regional arrangements already commit States to consider the risk of diversion or misuse of weapons against civilians when making arms deals, but for the first time in history such standards for proper export decisions could become global.

Shell on ground in Darfur

Image credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

The United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty is the culmination of a preparatory process spanning over five years, facilitated by the Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management.

Moreover, in inter-agency meetings held under UN CASA (Coordinated Action on Small Arms, Ammunition and the Arms trade), in which 23 UN partners participate, a set of arguments were developed to assist the UN in conveying the message why the UN system would benefit from a better regulated global arms trade. They range from the protection of refugees, countering piracy, and providing security for development, to the safety of UN staff on the ground. Follow those arguments on Twitter: @ATT_Conference.

A robust Arms Trade Treaty can make a difference for millions of people confronted with insecurity, deprivation and fear and thus hopes are high that the Conference will deliver. If you want to know more about the work of the United Nations to facilitate this important agreement, visit the conference website at www.un.org/disarmament/ATT. Updates are also provided by the Department for Public Information on UN Facebook and on @UN.