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We can win an international Arms Trade Treaty.

After over 10 years of campaigning we are at the edge of making history. Join the Control Arms campaign and keep up the pressure on governments to agree a bullet proof arms trade treaty.

2013 is the make or break year. This is what we want:

• no arms that contribute to human rights abuses
• no arms that contribute to war crimes
• no arms that keep people in poverty
• yes for global regulation of the arms trade

You can join the campaign by signing up below, and “liking” us on Tell your friends to join us too by sharing a short tamen like this with your friends:

“I’m calling on governments to agree an #armstreaty to prevent arms fuelling human suffering. Join us:

Women, Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty

The importance of gender-based violence

It is now common knowledge that gender-based violence is often used deliberately as a tool to carry out and intensify violence. In fact, there are approximately 66,000 victims of gender-based killings of women every year and there is a direct correlation between gender-based killings of women and the use of firearms. Women are not only killed by arms, but are also targeted in crimes such as rape and other forms of sexual violence like trafficking and slavery. In 2009, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon said that, “Like a grenade or a gun, sexual violence is a part of the arsenal of parties to armed conflict to pursue military, political, social and economic aims. Beyond the enormous toll on victims, sexual violence in armed conflict hurts recovery and peacebuilding.”

Gender-based violence and the Arms Trade Treaty

If the Arms Trade Treaty is to be an effective legal instrument in regulating the international arms trade, it must include strong references to gender and address risks of gender-based violence and a responsibility to prevent gender-based armed violence.

Many Control Arms members and partners supported the inclusion of a criterion on gender-based violence in the ATT. This requires States to ‘not to allow an international transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence’. As such, during the upcoming Final Conference in March 2012, Control Arms advocated for a stronger language that will make this criteria binding.

Including a gender-based violence criteria within the Arms Trade Treaty was a significant topic of negotiations. More than 100 states gave a joint statement calling for such a criteria. As a result, the text of the Treaty,  includes two references to gender: The first reference is in the preamble paragraph 11, reminding the states to bear in mind that ‘women and children are particularly affected in situation of conflict and armed violence’. The second reference is in Article 4.6b, and asks states to consider taking feasible measures to avoid the arms ‘being used to commit or facilitate gender-based violence or violence against children. Unfortunately, the term “feasible measures” is not very strong.

Growing awareness among member states regarding gender-based violence

Numerous countries have referenced gender based violence in their presentations during the UNFC First Committee debate on Other Disarmament Measures and International Security, especially in light of the Security Council resolution 2117 from September 26, 2013, which stated that “the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons fuel armed conflicts and have a wide range of negative human rights, humanitarian, development and socioeconomic consequences, in particular on the security of civilians in armed conflict, including the disproportionate impact on violence perpetrated against women and girls, and exacerbating sexual and gender-based violence and the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict in violation of applicable international law”.

Danish Ambassador Uffe Balslev delivered a rousing speech regarding the link between gender and disarmament and the need to further integrate women into efforts to combat and eradicate the illicit arms trade. He highlighted the ATT as a major step forward in shaping member states’ views on the importance of the gender based criteria in international security and expressed his disappointment that this achievement was not reflected in other resolutions on conventional disarmament, especially resolution L.7 on Women, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

In his statement, Amb. Balslev declared: “It is our hope that we have put those years behind us where the gender perspective was largely absent from disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation processes. Men and women are affected differently by weapons and armed conflict and their contribution to disarmament efforts will be different and complementary. (…) There may be small pockets of opinion in this committee who still argue that these issues belong elsewhere and are not part of the core occupation of the United Nations Committee responsible for Disarmament and International Security. They must have been living on Mars. Nothing could be more wrong. It is about time it is reflected in our work.”


These selected resources provide background and analysis on how and why an ATT can promote women’s rights, and help to prevent gender based violence.

The materials have been developed by the Women’s Network of IANSA. IANSA is one of the founders of the Control Arms campaign, and the IANSA Women’s Network is the only international network focused on the connections between gender, women’s rights, small arms and armed violence. IANSA women have been active throughout the campaign raising the issue of women’s rights and gender in relation to the ATT.

Putting Women’s Rights into the Arms Trade Treaty
While international trade in consumer goods is highly regulated, the global trade in arms takes place in the absence of legally binding, robust and universally applicable criteria. The United Nations (UN) Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in July 2012 provided a historic opportunity to create a global mechanism to control the arms trade.

The Arms Trade Treaty: An Important Opportunity to Prevent Gender Based Violence at Gunpoint (2012)
During the Diplomatic Conference, IANSA women build on past successes in the ATT process. The position paper, ‘The Arms Trade Treaty: An Important Opportunity to Prevent Gender Based Violence at Gunpoint’ clarifies why and how the ATT must include measures to prevent gender based violence and sexual violence against women.

Successes at the 3rd ATT PrepCom (2011)
On 14 July 2011, a major success was achieved with the inclusion of gender-based violence in the preamble of the new draft paper released by Ambassador Moritan, Chair of the PrepCom. After the release of the paper several states, among them Fiji, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, and Kenya, made very strong arguments to include gender in other areas of the Treaty, including in the principles, goals and objectives, criteria and victim assistance sections.

ATT position paper (2011)
This position paper of the IANSA Women’s Network was used to support our lobbying and advocacy of delegates at the UN as well as in working with government representatives and elected officials in your countries.


Operationalising the gender-based violence criterion in the ATT

Including a gender-based violence criteria within the Arms Trade Treaty was a significant topic of negotiations. More than 100 states gave a joint statement calling for such a criteria. Article 7 of the treaty requires states to consider risks of gender-based violence in their arms transfer decisions.

Event panelists:

  • Amb. Greta Gunnarsdottir, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the UN (chair)
  • Amb. Matthew Rowland, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament in Genevea
  • Amb. Gerhard Doujak, Head of Department for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at the Austrian Foreign Ministry
  • Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will
  • Claire Mortimer, Legal Adviser Oxfam GB

Event highlights:

Amb. Greta Gunnarsdottir opened the discussions by remaring that there is a lack of awareness of gender based issues at the UN, especially when one enters forums not directly related to gender, such as disarmament or the environment. She thus encouraged states to proceed with the implementation of the ATT, ensuring that the GB provision is actually a part of the criteria applied by thier national istitutions.

In his opening remarks,  Amb. Matthew Rowland, discussed the universalisation of “the normative values of the gender provisions in the treaty [...] will depend a lot on the extent to which it is championed by the states”. He encouraged everyone to see the links between the ATT and other regional and international works and instruments related to GBV, as they can improve the implementation process and ensure the availability of information necessary to aptly evaluate the impact of arms trade on gender violence.

Ms. Claire Mortimer enumerated several reasons why the GBV provisions in the ATT are groundbreaking, explaining that they “create an international legal obligation to mainstream gender into all arms transfer decisions” and that “they link to the supply of weapons which create GBV in all forms”, including post-conflict situations.

For More Information

Please visit other partnering organizations, for information regarding the ATT and gender-based violence.