On April 2, 2013, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted at the United Nations in New York.
The 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved this first and only treaty on regulating the trade in conventional arms ranging from light weapons to jet fighters and warships. One hundred fifty-five votes were cast in favour of the treaty, three against, with 22 abstentions.
Ploughshares Senior Program Officer Kenneth Epps was at the negotiations in New York for the final two-week negotiating session that ended on March 28.
As well as representing Ploughshares, Epps provided leadership in New York during the conference in his capacity as Co-Chair of the international civil society coalition Control Arms.
Iran, Syria and North Korea prevented the treaty from reaching the consensus required for adoption under the rules of the negotiating conference. Turning to a General Assembly vote to adopt it by a simple majority was a fallback position for an overwhelming number of UN member states that were frustrated by a strict interpretation of consensus as unanimity.
Ploughshares will now work to ensure that the ATT genuinely contributes to relieving human misery in the world by restricting the illegal and irresponsible movement of arms across borders.
Canada voted with the vast majority of states to pass the ATT. We encourage Canada to be one of the first to sign the treaty when it opens for signature on June 3. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after the 50th country signs and ratifies it.
Project Ploughshares, in partnership with other NGOs, has actively promoted an Arms Trade Treaty since the mid-1990s.
Ploughshares is a member of the Steering Board of the Control Arms Coalition, a group of NGOs promoting the Arms Trade Treaty.
Charting the Course for an Arms Trade Treaty
Project Ploughshares and the Arms Trade Treaty process
Canada’s call for a firearms exemption
Civilian or military firearms? The Canadian Criminal Code makes no distinction, but Canada has proposed one for the ATT
photo: Control Arms