The idea of an arms trade treaty first came from Nobel Peace Laureates, supported by civil society organizations worldwide.
In 2003, the Control Arms campaign was launched and has since gathered support for the Arms Trade Treaty from over a million people worldwide.
In 2006, Control Arms handed over a global petition called “Million Faces” to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
In December 2006, 153 governments finally voted at the United Nations to start work on developing a global Arms Trade Treaty. Momentum for the treaty has been building ever since.
In 2009 the UN General Assembly launched a time frame for the negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty. This included one preparatory meeting in 2010, two in 2011, and a negotiating conference.
In January 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to convene a Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. It also requested the assistance of the Secretary-General in compiling a report containing the views of Member States on the proposed treaty elements and other relevant issues relating to the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.
In July 2012 the Diplomatic Conference on the ATT was held acting as a month-long negotiation for all countries at the United Nations. The conference produced a draft treaty text, but failed to adopt a treaty by consensus after the United States, followed by Russia, and a few other states requested more time.
In November 2012, Member States voted and received a mandate to organize a final UN Conference on the ATT. The vote came on the last day of the UN’s First Committee and was passed with an unprecedented 157 votes in favour, 18 abstentions and 0 votes against.
On 18 – 28 March 2013, the Final Conference took place but it once again failed to produce a successful agreement on a Treaty. However, a large number of Member States moved to take the Treaty to the General Assembly in order to vote on it as quickly as possible.
On 2 April 2013, The Arms Trade Treaty was finally adopted by a vote of 154 in favour, 3 against, and 23 abstentions. It opened for signature on June 3rd, 2013!