Background to the Arms Trade Treaty

By staff writers
April 2, 2014

At least 500,000 people die every year on average and millions more are displaced and abused as a result of armed violence and conflict.

Peace and human rights groups have campaigned since the early 1990s to achieve robust, legally binding, global rules on international arms transfers to stem the flow of conventional arms and munitions that fuel atrocities and abuse.

Millions of people around the world, including faith communities and the World Council of Churches,
called on governments to agree a strong Arms Trade Treaty with robust rules to protect lives.

Once it enters into force, the ATT will prohibit states from transferring conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons would be used to commit or facilitate serious human rights abuses, including genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. All states parties will have to carry out objective assessments to avoid an overriding risk that an arms transfer would be used for serious human rights violations.

The treaty will enter into force 90 days after the 50th ratification. NGOs, including Ekklesia, will continue to push for all governments to sign, ratify and strictly implement the treaty as soon as possible.

States from every region in the world signed the ATT soon after it opened for signature on 3 June 2013, including four of the world’s major arms producers and exporters – France, Germany, the UK and the USA, which signed in September 2013.

States that voted 'yes' to the ATT but have not yet signed or ratified (in total 43):
Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Salam, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, San Marino, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Ukraine.

States that have ratified the ATT at the time of writing (in total 31, including those expected to ratify on 2 April 2014): Albania, Bulgaria, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Kingdom.

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