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Taking Stock of the Arms Trade Treaty: Universalization

ATT First Six 4 Universalization Stohl cover
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
August, 2021

The rate at which states are joining the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has naturally slowed. Universalization efforts have been carried out through a variety of different frameworks, both within the ATT regime—including the Working Group on Treaty Universalization (WGTU), a sponsorship programme and the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF)—and by the United Nations, regional organizations and civil society.

Universalization of the ATT contributes to the development of standards and norms in the international arms trade. If a party flouts the treaty’s require­ments, it undermines the treaty and makes universal­ization less meaningful. Thus, universalization means both expanding the number of states parties and ensuring that they live up to their obligations.

This is one of a series of five papers that are being produced as part of a wider project aimed at taking stock of specific aspects of the ATT—its scope, the application of the risk-assessment criteria, its processes and forums, universalization efforts, and international assistance to support ATT implementation.


I. Introduction

II. Current status

III. Universalization efforts to date 

IV. Challenges to universalization 

V. Conclusions and recommendations 



Rachel Stohl <p>is a Vice President of Research Programs at the Stimson Center and Director of the Conventional Defense Program. Stohl was the consultant to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty process from 2010–13 and was previously the consultant to the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2008 and the UN Register for Conventional Arms in 2009.</p>