U.S. Policy and the Arms Trade Treaty

Tasneem Jamal Conventional Weapons

Rachel Stohl

Working Paper 10-1

Unlike their nuclear counterparts, conventional weapons have been relatively unregulated in international forums. Because the global trade in conventional arms is a necessary and integral part of global security and international commerce, States have been hesitant to place conditions on and criteria for the transfer of conventional weapons. Global agreements on conventional arms have existed for decades, but it is only in the past 15 years that strides have been taken to develop international standards to regulate the trade in conventional weapons. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is currently being developed under the auspices of the United Nations to do just that.

This paper aims to put the developing U.S. position on the ATT into context. It was commissioned by Project Ploughshares as a briefing for the roundtable event, “Towards a Global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): What role for the United States?” held in Washington, DC in February 2010. The paper and the Washington roundtable are components of an international project to engage legal, academic, industry, and parliamentary experts in the United States and South Africa in widened support for an effective arms trade treaty.

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