UN Calls for a Stronger International Arms Trade Treaty

In anticipation of the forthcoming UN Diplomatic Conference on Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) scheduled to take place in July 2012, several high-level officials representing the humanitarian, development and human rights organizations of the United Nations issued a joint statement underlining the dangers posed by the uncontrolled use and transfer of conventional weapons and their ammunition, and offered several recommendations aimed at addressing the problem. 

The signatories underlined that, in December 2011, the overall humanitarian and development assistance borne by the United Nations Member States amounted to US$7 billion, which equals the total value of globally authorized trade of SALW and their ammunition during the same year.

Human security is severally undermined when the availability and transfer of arms is not controlled.  This is particularly relevant in times of conflict, when people are displaced in mass numbers and are escaping instability, human rights violation and humanitarian disasters.

The high officials listed four elements which would make the Arms Trade Treaty significantly more effective.  Specifically, the UN officials recommended that the new Arms Trade Treaty:

1. Require countries to bear the responsibility of assessing the risk of their respective arms transfers, keeping in mind who is the final user and potential repercussions of the transfer;

2. Cover ALL conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons (SALW), which are particularly poorly regulated at the present moment;

3. Also include ammunition within its scope;

4. Cover all types of transfers including transit, transshipment, loans, leases as well as brokering and closely-related activities.

SEESAC has been actively involved in assisting governments of South Eastern European region in reducing the number of stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, improving the administrative capacity to control arms transfers and strengthening arms export control.. Read more on SEESAC Key Activities.