Arms Trade Treaty

Efforts to regulate international arms transfers at the global level have been on the international agenda since the early part of the 20th Century. In 1925 the League of Nations produced a draft Convention on the Arms Trade that was never adopted. In contrast to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, which are governed by global conventions prohibiting their transfer, there are no global conventions or treaties prohibiting or restricting transfers of conventional weapons.

In 2001, a group of Nobel Peace Laureates circulated a Draft Framework Convention on International Arms Transfers, which called for a universal, legally binding agreement governing arms transfers. An international NGO campaign promoted the establishment of a global, legally binding treaty establishing common global transfer control standards, which lobbied UN member states to promote the issue amongst their peers. 

In December 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/89 entitled “Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”. It requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. The Secretary General's report containing member states' views was published in 2007. 

A group of governmental experts (GGE) convened in 2007-8 to consider these views and reported in 2008, recommending the need for further consultation between UN member states. In December 2008 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 63/240, which established an open-ended working group of UN member states to continue to address the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

In December 2009 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 64/48, which decided to convene a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in 2012 “to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms”. Four Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) sessions are taking place before the conference in: July 2010, February/March 2011, July 2011 and February 2012. The UN Conference on the ATT took place in July 2012. The conference concluded on 27 July 2012 with a draft treaty text and calls from the US, Russia, and a number of other states for more time to consider the document. 

In December 2012 the UN General Assembly voted in favour of convening the final UN conference on an ATT to take place during 18-28 March 2013. The president of the final conference presented a draft ATT to the final conference on 28 March 2013. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and Syria blocked consensus on the draft ATT text and it was therefore not adopted at the conference. However, the draft ATT was put to a vote in the General Assembly on 2 April 2013 and 154 states voted in favour of adopting the ATT text with the same 3 states opposing, and 23 abstaining. The treaty was therefore adopted and open for signature on 3 June 2013.

SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme researchers conduct projects on the ATT and measures for assisting with ATT implementation.

 

SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

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SIPRI Arms Embargoes Database

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SIPRI National Reports Database

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