The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aims to reduce human suffering; prevent the illicit trade in arms; contribute to international and regional peace, security, and stability; and promote transparency and cooperation among States Parties. It requires States Parties to conduct good-faith assessments of the likely end use of arms transfers and the effects of those transfers in destination countries and obligates States Parties to refuse authorization for certain arms transfers.

Article 7(1) of the ATT requires an exporting State Party, when determining whether to allow an arms export, to assess the potential that the arms could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international human rights law, among other things, as well as the potential that the arms would contribute to or undermine peace and security. Article 7(4) requires States Parties to take into account the potential for arms to be used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and children when conducting this risk assessment.

Article 7(2) requires that once a State Party determines that there is a risk of an Article 7(1) harm, the State Party must then consider if there are measures that could be established to mitigate that risk. Under Article 7(3), after a State Party considers mitigating measures, it must refuse to authorize an export if there remains an overriding risk of an Article 7(1) harm. The Article 7 risk assessment takes place only after the State Party has determined that the export is not absolutely prohibited under Article 6 (which prohibits exports when the State Party knows the arms would be used in the commission of genocide or crimes against humanity, among other things).

States Parties must consider gender and risks of GBV when they assess: the risk of serious human rights violations (or other Article 7(1)(b) harms); the effects on peace and security; and the availability of prospective mitigating measures. All of these feed into the final determination of whether an overriding risk exists.

This paper provides interpretive guidance on key terms that appear in Article 7, namely: “serious violation of international human rights law”; “serious acts of gender-based violence”; “commit or facilitate”; “peace and security”; “contribute to or undermine”; and “overriding risk.” It examines how gender and risks of GBV are relevant to each part of the Article 7 risk assessment, particularly with respect to serious violations of international human rights law.

This paper complements Control Arms’ Practical Guide on how to use the Arms Trade Treaty to address Gender-Based Violence, which provides guidance on the legal and policy frameworks relevant to GBV and outlines a variety of indicators and other measures export authorities can use to identify and understand risks of GBV in different contexts.



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