The global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that lays down international rules for the 85 billion US dollars global arms trade came into effect on 24 December 2014. The treaty is a new chapter in collective efforts to bring responsibility, accountability and transparency to the global arms trade.
It aims to regulate the industry and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights violators worldwide.
Features of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013 are:
• It is the first legally-binding multilateral agreement that prohibits States from exporting conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons will be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
• The treaty established the highest possible common international standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms.
• The ATT is a tool for States to prevent the violence and insecurity resulting from the flow of arms, and in so doing to fulfill their human rights obligations
• It will assist States in regulating non-State entities such as private military and security companies –which often carry and use arms in their line of work– and ensuring compliance with international law
ATT is the first major arms accord since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996.
The treaty was signed by 130 countries and ratified by 60 countries, including Israel who joined it in December 2014. Apart from this, other key exporters such as France Britain and Germany have ratified the carter and pledged to adhere to the strict criteria mentioned in it.
The treaty has been signed by the United States, the world’s largest arms producer and exporter, but not ratified by it.
India and ATT
India has not signed the treaty as it was among the 23 nations that had abstained from voting on the treaty in 2013. According to India, draft treaty annexed to the resolution is weak on terrorism and non-state actors and these concerns find no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty.
ATT is a very important step to peace and security and is a welcome avenue to curb the provision of arms to illicit actors such as mercenaries.
However, more important than this treaty on regulation of the arms trade are efforts at reduction of weapon stockpiles worldwide. Also, numerous ambiguities in the text mean that treaty could end up supporting the arms industry.
What: came into effect
When: on 24 December 2014