United States signs the Arms Trade Treaty
UNA-UK welcomed yesterday’s signing of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United States. As the world’s biggest arms exporter, the United States joins more than half of UN member states who have already signed the Treaty. The US signature comes as part of a wave of support for the Treaty as a further 21 states added their signatures at a ceremony on the margins of the UN General Assembly. The total number of signatures now stands at 108.
The Control Arms Coalition, of which UNA-UK is a member, has now urged the US to live up to the spirit of the Treaty by not authorising any transfer of weapons where there is a major risk of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as in the current conflict in Syria.
Allison Pytlak of the Control Arms Coalition said:
“Just three months after opening for signature, more than 100 governments have signed this groundbreaking agreement and many are making progress toward ratifying it. Today is a tremendous milestone. We urge all countries to take their obligations seriously and pass national laws that will enforce the Treaty and transform the words on the page into action on the ground. Control Arms will continue to advocate for the Treaty’s universalisation but also stands ready to monitor and assist with implementation.”
The Treaty will come into force 90 days after the 50th signatory state has completed the ratification process. The Treaty has currently been ratified by seven countries with UK ratification expected later this year. UNA–UK is calling on states to prioritise signing and ratifying as soon as possible, and to implement the Treaty to a high standard.
What is the Arms Trade Treaty?
Designed to reduce the devastating effect of armed violence, the ATT is the first ever multilateral treaty on the global trade in conventional arms and ammunition, requiring governments to establish common standards for the international trade of weapons.
The Treaty creates binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers against the risk that weapons will be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organised crime or violations of humanitarian law. It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a major risk countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.
Image: John Kerry signs the ATT on behalf of the United States