You are here: Arms Trade Treaty negotiations - an historic opportunity for the world

15 March 2013

The under-regulated arms trade has devastating consequences for people around the globe. Each year, armed conflict kills an estimated 200,000 people. Millions more suffer indirectly from the threat of violence, which destroys livelihoods and displaces communities.

 With the black market in small arms and light weapons estimated at $1billion, a significant proportion of this suffering is caused by illicit arms trading.  These irresponsible practices could be addressed by a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

On Monday representatives from all 193 UN Member States will gather in New York with the objective of establishing the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty. 

UNA-UK has been campaigning for such a treaty for more than a decade, with the campaign gaining momentum in the past couple of years.  We are now very close to achieving a historic treaty that will save lives and significantly reduce the destabilising impact of the under-regulated arms trade.


There is a real danger that the treaty will be watered down during negotiations.  

The vast majority of states, including the UK, that support a strong treaty should not let a minority of obstructive countries jeopardise proceedings at these final negotiations. 

Possible loopholes that could undermine the treaty include:

  • the exclusion of ammunition and components from the scope of the treaty
  • unacceptably weak restrictions on transfers that could facilitate human rights abuses, including genocide and mass-atrocity crimes
  • the absence of mandatory public reporting obligations on exports, imports, transit, transhipments and transfer/diversion of weapons
  • too high a threshold for the treaty to enter into force (the current draft asks for 65 states to agree to be bound by it before it takes effect – this could cause several years of delays) 

UNA-UK will be at the treaty negotiations in New York next week, working hard with its partners in the Control Arms Coalition for a robust and effective treaty without these loopholes. 

Take action - add your voice to our campaign

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and with its considerable clout on the world stage, the UK has an important role to play at these negotiations. 

The UK must champion a strong arms trade treaty and use its influence to win over as many states as possible.

  1. Donate a tweet / Facebook message to Thunderclap

Synchronised tweets and messages from thousands of people worldwide will be released to coincide with the opening of the negotiations on Monday 18 March. 

Click here to donate a tweet / message  now - it only takes a minute!

This will show delegates and governments around the world that there is a huge wave of public support for a strong arms trade treaty.

  1. Tweet Alistair Burt during the conference

Alistair Burt is the UK government minister directly responsible for the UK’s delegation at the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in New York.

Tweet Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtFCO) during the conference to ask him to lobby hard on your behalf for a robust treaty without loopholes.

  1. Keep track of the latest behind-the-scenes developments

Ben Donaldson, UNA-UK's Communications and Campaigns Officer, will be in New York for the second week of negotiations (22-28 March), working as part of the Control Arms Coalition:

Click here for more info on UNA-UK's campaign for a strong Arms Trade Treaty