Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

The Arms Trade Treaty is a multilateral treaty that regulates the international trade and transfer of conventional arms.

  • Category
    • Missile
  • Subcategories Conventional Weapons and Dual-Use, Multilateral
  • Ratified
  • Signed, not ratified
  • Not Signed

See Status

Ratified (109)

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Signed, not ratified (31)

Not Signed (42)

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Opened for Signature

3 June 2013

Entered into Force

24 December 2014

Duration

Indefinite

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Treaty Overview

Background

  • Deadline for initial report on national implementation: 24 December 2015
  • Deadline for first annual report: 31 May 2016
  • Membership: 130 Signatories, 101 States Parties

Conventional Arms which ATT covers:

Article 2.1
a) Battle tanks
b) Armoured combat vehicles;
c) Large-calibre artillery systems
d) Combat aircraft
e) Attack Helicopters
f) Warships
g) Missiles and missile launchers
h) Small arms and light weapons

Article 3:
Regulate ammunition or munitions fired, launched, or delivered by the conventional arms covered under Article 2.1.

Article 4:
Regulate parts and components where the exports is in a form that provides the capability to assemble the conventional arms covered under Article 2.1

Review Conference

The first review conference will be convened by the provincial Secretariat no later than one year after the treaty enters into force. Thereafter the review conference will be held as decided by the Conference of State Parties. The State Parties will adopt, by consensus, its rules at the first session. The State Parties will adopt financial rules and adopt a budget for the financial period until the next ordinary meeting. The review conference is charged with: a) Reviewing the implementation of the Treaty, including developments in conventional arms technology; b) Considering and adopting recommendations regarding the implementation and operation of the Treaty, especially the promotion of universality; c) Considering amendments; d) Considering issues arising from the interpretation of the Treaty; e) Considering and deciding the tasks and budget of the Secretariat; f) Considering the establishment of any subsidiary bodies as may be necessary to improve the functioning of this Treaty; and g) Perform any other function consistent with this Treaty.

Extraordinary meetings shall be held at times deemed necessary by the Conference of States Parties, or by written request of any State Party provided that the request is supported by at least two-thirds of the States Parties.

Integration with Other Treaties and Agreements

Current small arms limitations include the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the UN Program of Action (PoA).

The CCW entered into force in December 1983 and currently has 116 States Parties. The CCW complements the ATT by banning and restricting the use of weapons which cause unnecessary suffering to individuals. Most notably the CCW bans land-mines, but also includes limitations on certain kinds of ammunition. However, the CCW has no compliance measures.

In 2001, the United Nations agreed to the UN Program of Action (PoA). The PoA is targeted at the global problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and sets out a range of measures to control small arms transfers, regulate brokers, manage stockpiles, and trace small arms. Unlike the ATT which is legally binding, the PoA is only politically binding. Implementation of the PoA is on a state by state voluntary basis; thus there is no enforcement and only voluntary biennial reports. As such, the ATT adds depth to the small arms trade as it legally requires national legislatures to adopt its provisions, but little verification is actually in place.

Treaty Obligations

States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty will establish a control system regulating the export of munitions and ammunition for arms covered under Article 2.1 and their parts and components. A national control list will be maintained by each State and will be submitted to the Secretariat, States are encouraged to make the lists public. The definitions for the weapons should not be less than the UN register of Conventional Arms. Each State Party will designate 1 or more national points of contact for the exchanging of information regarding treaty requirements.

A State Party shall not authorize arms which would: violate UNSC article VII, break international treaties or arms embargoes, or if the state had knowledge at the time of authorization to be used in crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, grave breaks of the 1949 Geneva Convention, or attacks against civilians.

Each exporting State Party will take measures that all authorizations for conventional arms under Articles 2.1, 3, and 4 are detailed and issued prior to the export. They will also make available information about the authorization in question, upon request, to the importing State Party and to the transit or trans-shipment State Parties, subject to its national laws, practices, or policies.

Each importing State Party shall take measures to ensure the appropriate and relevant information is provided, upon request, pursuant to its national laws, to the exporting State Party. The importing State Party will also take measures to regulate imports under its jurisdiction of conventional arms covered under article 2.1, which may include an import system.

Each State Party shall maintain national records, pursuant to its national laws and regulations of its issuance of expert authorization or actual exports of conventional arms under article 2.1 for a ten-year minimum.

A voluntary trust fund will be established to aid States to implement the terms of the Treaty.

Verification and Compliance

Within the first year of the treaty entering into force, each State Party will submit an initial report to the Secretariat of measures taken to implement the treaty. Thereafter, each State Party will annually submit a report by 31 May of each year for the preceding calendar year concerning authorized or actual exports and imports of conventional arms under article 2.1, which may exclude commercially sensitive or national security information.

Each State Party will use national laws and regulations to implement the terms of the treaty.

Amendments and Withdrawal

Six years after the Treaty enters into force any State Party may propose amendments; thereafter proposed amendments may only be considered every three years. Any proposal shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat, which shall then be circulated to all States Parties, not less than 180 days before the next Conference of States Parties. If consensus cannot be reached on a proposed amendment then the amendment can be adopted on a three-quarters majority vote of States Parties present and voting.

Each State Party will have the right to withdraw. The withdrawing State shall give notification to the Depositary, which will notify all States Parties. It may include an explanation. The notice of withdrawal will take effect ninety days after the Depositary has been notified, unless a later date is specified.


Developments

2020-2017

2020

On 20 June, Chinese lawmakers On 20 June, Chinese lawmakers voted to adopt a decision on joining the Arms Trade Treaty.

2019

On 9 April, Palau ratified the ATT.

On 26 April, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the ATT, intimating that the Treaty threatened American sovereign decision-making over weapons export deals. Many arms control experts considered the Trump administration’s justification spurious. The U.S. signed the treaty in 2013 but never ratified it.

2018

On 18 May, Chile ratified the ATT.

On 18 June, Cameroon ratified the ATT.

On 14 August, Brazil ratified the ATT.

From 20-24 August, the ATT States Parties met for the Fourth Conference of States Parties (CSP4) in Tokyo, Japan.  The conference was attended by 111 states, and produced an agenda and final report.

On 19 October, Suriname ratified the ATT.

On 22 October, Guinea Bissau ratified the ATT.

On 14 December, Mozambique ratified the ATT.

2017

On 6-7 February the ATT held a working group on Effective Treaty Implementation for the Third Conference of States Parties (CSP3).

On 16 February, states parties and signatories met in Geneva for CSP3 First Informal Preparatory Meeting.

On 1 March, Honduras deposited its ratification to the ATT, becoming the 92nd state party to the Treaty.

On 7 April, ATT states parties and signatories met in Geneva for the Second Informal Preparatory Meeting for CSP3.

On 11-14 September, ATT states parties met for the Third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. The Third Conference was attended by 106 states.

On 8 December, Kazakhstan ratified the ATT.

On 29 December, the State of Palestine ratified the ATT.

2016-2015

2016

On 25 January, Lesotho ratified the ATT. The Treaty entered into force 90 days later.

On 16 February, Peru ratified the ATT. The Treaty entered into force 90 days later.

On 29 February, Greece ratified the ATT. The Treaty entered into force 90 days later.

On the same day, ATT state parties and signatories convened for an Extraordinary Meeting to agree on administrative and organizational issues. Agenda items included ATT Secretariat arrangements and budgets for the Secretariat and Second Conference of State Parties, as reflected in the final report.

On 4 April, ATT state parties and signatories met in Geneva for the first informal consultation in preparation for the Second Conference of State Parties (CSP2), to be held the 22nd – 26th of August. The primary purpose of the meeting was to seek delegates’ views on the draft agenda.

On 28 April, state parties and signatories to the ATT met in Geneva for the second informal preparatory consultation for the CSP2. The meeting addressed updated CSP2 draft agenda items and the preparatory process timelines.

On 10 May, Cyprus ratified the ATT. The Treaty will enter into force on 8 August.

On 18 May, state parties and signatories to the ATT met in Geneva for the third and final informal preparatory consultation for the CSP2. The meeting addressed treaty implementation and universalization. Costa Rica and Finland presented their joint draft paper on Treaty Implementation. In addition, the President, Ambassador Emmanuel E. Imoche of Nigeria, presented a draft discussion paper on the Promotion of Treaty Universalization.

On 23 May, Zambia and Georgia ratified the ATT. The Treaty will enter into force in both countries on 21 August.

On 8 June, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Attorney General of Barbados, Diane Campbell, reaffirmed her government’s commitment to implementation of the ATT, ratified in Barbados a year earlier. Speaking at an ad-hoc seminar for Barbados as part of the EU ATT Outreach Project, Campbell highlighted the importance of ATT implementation in the Caribbean region, where many countries face extraordinarily high rates of homicide committed with firearms.

On 13 June, the Commonwealth of Nations hosted a seminar in partnership with the British Red Cross to explore issues related to international humanitarian law and the Arms Trade Treaty. In her opening remarks, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland emphasized the importance of ATT ratification in the promotion of humanitarian law.

2015

On 23-24 February, the first preparatory meeting was held in Trinidad. In the meeting, participants discussed the participation in the Conference of State Parties and the financing issue. The meeting also produced a draft procedural report and finalized the remaining preparatory meeting schedule.

On 20-21 April, a fourth Informal Preparatory Meeting on the First Conference of States Parties (CSP) to the Arms Trade Treaty was held in Vienna. Both signatories and States Parties attended the meeting. There were differences on issues of the treaty’s universalization, implementation, and decision-making.

On 8-10 June, the Commonwealth States held a dialogue to discuss adherence to and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty in Wilton Park, United Kingdom.

On 17 June, the meeting of “Inter-parliamentary Conference to Enhance the Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the United Nations Program of Action on Illicit SALW by South-South Parliamentary Exchange and Cooperation” was held in the Republic of Portugal. Nine countries participated in the meeting exchanging experiences and discussing the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

On 25-26 June, Jamaica held the “Inter-parliamentary Conference to Enhance the Arms Trade Treaty and United Nations´ Program of Actions Implementation by South-South Parliamentary Exchange and Cooperation” in Kingston, Jamaica. Participants discussed the importance as well as concerns of island states and adopted a final declaration.

On 6-8 July, the 2nd preparatory meeting towards the First Conference of States Parties was held in Geneva. Didier Burkhalter, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, gave an opening statement, addressing the importance of the Treaty and calling for its universalization. Participants from States Parties and Non-Governmental Organizations discussed the rules of procedure for the First Conference of States Parties. However, it required more time to discuss issues of reporting, financial rules, and the ATT Secretariat.

On 24-27 August, the First Conference of States Parties was held in Cancun, Mexico with Ambassador Jorge Lomónaco presiding as President. During the Conference a programme of work was established for 2016. At the conclusion of the Conference on August 27, the final document was released on the proceedings.

On 9-10 September, an Interagency Roundtable Discussion was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. National ministries and agencies came together to discuss the Treaty as well as its implications for national needs.

On 22 December, Ghana ratified the ATT. The Treaty entered into force 90 days later.

2014-2013

2014

On 2 April, the Deputy Secretary-General made a statement at the Event Marking the First Anniversary of the Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty in New York, commending those Member States that had recently ratified the Treaty. The Secretary-General emphasized the awful humanitarian toll of the arms trade and expressed hope that the ATT would prove to be an achievement of the full potential of international law.

On 9-10 September, the First Round of Informal Consultations to Prepare for the First Conference of States Parties of the ATT was held in Mexico City. High Representative Angela Kane addressed the importance of the Treaty.

On 25 September, the ATT reached 50 ratifications. Pursuant to its article 22, the treaty will enter into force on 24 December. The Secretary-General remarked that “The need for the [ATT] remains abundantly clear… we must work for its efficient implementation and seek its universalization.”

On 8-10 October, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) launched a training course on ATT implementation.

On 27-28 November, the Second Round of Informal Consultations to Prepare for the First Conference of States Parties (CSP) of the ATT was held in Berlin. The meeting set up the road map and identified many issues for further discussion.

The Treaty entered into force on 24 December 2014.

2013

On 2 April the General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with a vote of 154-3-23.

On 3 June the Arms Trade Treaty opened for signature.

On 25 September the United Nations held a high-level event, “The Arms Trade Treaty: Towards Entry into Force”. The event was convened by the treaty co-authors (Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom) for the purpose of mobilizing support and progress towards the ATT’s entry into force and implementation.

On 23 October, Ambassador Peter Woolcott delivered a statement to the UN First Committee regarding the work of the Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Both Trinidad and Tobago and Switzerland have offered to host the ATT Secretariat.

In a statement by the European Union, the representative stressed that the ATT will contribute to more responsible and transparent international arms transfers and help eradicate illicit trade.

A draft resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty (A/C.1/68/L.4) sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom was adopted during First Committee. The resolution calls for those States that have not yet ratify, accept or approve the treaty to do so as soon as possible. Furthermore, it calls for the Secretary-General to report to the GA during the 68th Session regarding the status of the treaty.

Seven other resolutions also made references to the Arms Trade Treaty including “Transparency in Armaments” A/C.1/68/L.30 and “National Legislation on the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods A/C.1/68/L.31. Of the resolutions, five were adopted without a vote.

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