Every day, thousands of people are killed, injured, raped, or forced to flee from their homes as a result of the poorly regulated global arms trade.
We want to change that.
The uncontrolled proliferation of arms and ammunition fuels conflicts, increases human rights abuses and exacerbates poverty. While one person dies every minute as a result of armed violence, millions more suffer displacement, human rights abuses, loss of services through direct damage to infrastructure and increased unemployment. There is an irrefutable link between high levels of armed violence and poverty, particularly from the illicit trade. Bringing the licit trade under control is the first necessary step toward addressing a reduction in the illicit trade.
About Our Work
The historic Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – adopted by overwhelming vote at the UN General Assembly in April 2013 – is the first global treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade. This momentous achievement came after more than a decade of sustained advocacy and campaigning by the Control Arms Coalition, the international alliance of non-governmental organisations working for strong international arms controls.
With over 300 civil society partner organisations in all regions of the world, Control Arms successfully campaigned for the creation and adoption of the ATT. The campaign included coordinated advocacy, research and policy analysis, international popular mobilisation, clear digital and media communications, the involvement of a wide range of stakeholder organisations, and a partnership approach with supportive governments.
The individuals and organisations that have consistently called for a bulletproof ATT come from diverse sectors of society, demonstrating the broad-based support that existed for stronger regulations on arms trade. These sectors include policy experts, lawyers, religious leaders and communities, women’s networks, healthcare professionals, parliamentarians, researchers and activists, among others.
This combination of grassroots activities and direct advocacy with decision-makers has been integral to the achievement of a strong treaty with clear humanitarian goals that has the potential to make a difference to the lives of millions of women, men and children.
The Control Arms Secretariat, established in 2011, is the coordination body for Control Arms Coalition, supporting its members, representing them to governments at the UN and providing leadership in the furtherance of the campaign. This role has been vital to harnessing the collective skills, expertise and energy of coalition partners to achieve the adoption of the ATT and to maintain the momentum of the Treaty process. The goals of the Control Arms Coalition now are to ensure that more States join the ATT to advance universalisation and that governments robustly implement the Treaty, thereby establishing high international norms for future arms transfer decision-making.
Ensuring the efficacy of the ATT will require high-quality implementation efforts by States Parties as well as the development of new legislation, regulations, procedures, technological infrastructure and/or capacities in some States. Many States, particularly those that are low-income and have low-capacity, require assistance before they can fully implement the ATT.
Why Regulate the Arms Trade?
Because one person dies every minute as a result of armed violence.
The State of the Arms Trade Treaty
More than 50% of the world has signed up so far.
131 States have signed the ATT, and close to 100 have now ratified. But some regions of the world are underpresented, and implementation is inconsistent.
We still have a lot of work to do.
“Less than two years after its adoption by the General Assembly, we have crossed the threshold of 50 ratifications needed to trigger the Treaty’s entry-into-force…I salute the many civil society organizations that have helped make this speedy progress possible.”
-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 25 September 2014
Control Arms has a strong track record of success, with the crucial role of the civil society in achieving an ATT often cited by the UN and governments alike. In 2003, only three governments publicly supported the idea of an ATT (Costa Rica, Mali, and Cambodia). Since then, the coalition has successfully transformed the ATT from an idea and aspiration among civil society into a UN process, involving all Member States, and culminating in the adoption of a treaty by overwhelming vote at the UN General Assembly. On 2 April 2013, 154 States voted to adopt the ATT, and the Treaty entered-into-force, becoming international law on 24 December 2014.
The Control Arms Secretariat, established in 2011, is the coordination body for Control Arms coalition, supporting its members, representing them to governments at the UN and providing leadership in the furtherance of the campaign. This role has been vital to harnessing the collective skills, expertise and energy of coalition partners to achieve the adoption of the ATT and to maintain the momentum of the Treaty process.
Since its formation, the Control Arms Secretariat has successfully expanded the Coalition and improved coordination and communication systems among members to promote global cooperation. The Control Arms Secretariat is now widely seen as a trusted and well-respected source of knowledge and expertise on the ATT, with a proven track record of leading and coordinating the work of a diverse international coalition. In 2016, the Secretariat will continue its work surrounding universalisation and implementation of the ATT, publishing leading research through its ATT Monitor reports and organising conferences and workshops aimed at guiding states through the accession process.
An Archived History of the ATT:
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!