Arms Trade Treaty
Since the early 1990s, an active civil society campaign has been promoting the negotiation of a robust, comprehensive, legally-binding treaty to establish standards and restrictions on the international trade in conventional arms. After a seven year process at the United Nations, the treaty text was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. It entered into force on 24 December 2014. States parties and signatories now meet regularly to assess implementation at Conferences of States Parties (CSPs).
- First PrepCom, 12–23 July 2010
- Second PrepCom, 28 February–4 March 2011
- Third PrepCom, 11–15 July 2011
- Fourth PrepCom, 13–17 February 2012
- Negotiating Conference I, 2–27 July 2012
- Negotiating Conference II, 18–29 March 2013
- Signing Ceremony, 3 June 3013
Conferences of States Parties
- First Conference of States Parties preparatory process, 2014-2015
- First Conference of States Parties, 24-27 August 2015
- Extraordinary meeting of states parties, 29 February 2016
- Second Conference of States Parties preparatory process, April-May 2016
- Second Conference of States Parties, 22-26 August 2016
- Third Conference of States Parties preparatory process, February-April 2017
Brief history of the UN process to negotiate the ATT
On 24 July 2006, Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom presented a draft resolution, entitled "Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms." The General Assembly adopted the resolution, which established a group of governmental experts (GGE) in 2008 to examine the feasibility of an ATT and requested member states to (see official documents for the compilations of state views). UNIDIR provided an analysis of these views. The United States was the only government to vote against the resolution.
In September 2007, the UN Secretary-General appointed the GGE, which included experts from 28 countries. The GGE met in three sessions between February and August 2008 and adopted a final report by consensus. The GGE included nearly all major arms exporters, including many of whom had expressed doubts about feasibility of the ATT. Its major recommendation was for further consideration of the issue within the UN in an open and transparent manner on the basis of consensus-meaning through a process including the entire UN membership.
At the 2008 General Assembly, the seven original sponsors of the ATT resolution tabled a new draft text that included a decision to establish an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The working group was to be open to all states, to meet in six one-week sessions between 2009 and 2011 to consider where consensus can be found on a prospective treaty. The resolution was adopted as 63/240. Once again, only the United States voted against. Nineteen states abstained, including a number of Arab states, China, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia. The OEWG adopted its final report in July 2009. For a good analysis and overview of the OEWG process, see Michael Spies, "Towards a negotiating mandate for an arms trade treaty," Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 91, Summer 2009.
In 2009, the General Assembly adopted resolution 64/48, which included a decision to convene a United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, "to sit for four consecutive weeks in 2012 to elaborate a legally-binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms." It established four preparatory committees in 2010 and 2011 to make recommendations to the negotiating conference on the elements necessary for an effective treaty. 153 states voted in favour, 19 abstained, and only Zimbabwe voted against the resolution. The US changed its position under the Obama administration, voting in favour of the negotiating process.
Official background documents
2011: The arms trade treaty [Report] [Add.1] [Add.2]
2007: Member state views on an ATT [Part I] [Part II] [Add.1] [Add.2] [Add.3] [Add.4] [UNIDIR analysis of the 2007 compilation of views]
First PrepCom papers (July 2010):
Faciliator's Summary on Scope
Faciliator's Summary on Parameters
Faciliator's Summary on Implementation and Application
Chair's Draft Paper on elements, principles, and objectives and goals
Report of the Preparatory Committee, February 2012
Papers from July 2012 negotiating conference:
Chair's paper, 14 July 2011
Chair's paper, 3 July 2012
Main Committee papers from the negotiating conference, July 2012
Draft ATT, 24 July 2012
Draft ATT, 26 July 2012
Report of the Negotiating Conference, 2012
Papers from March 2013 negotiating conference:
President's Non-Paper, 20 March 2013
President's Non-Paper, 22 March 2013
President's Non-Paper, 27 March 2013
Draft decision submitted by the President of the Final Conference, containtaing the final text of the Arms Trade Treaty
General Assembly draft resolution
General Assmebly voting results record
Translations of many of these documents into the official UN languages are available on the UNODA website.
Currently WILPF is engaged in a project to promote gender perspectives and reduce gender-based violence (GBV) through the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and UN Programme of Action on small arms (UNPoA). The goal is to make the ATT and the UNPoA implementation more relevant and effective for women and others affected by armed GBV.