Anticipating the “Final” Arms Trade Treaty Conference: Eight Concrete Proposals


Conventional weapons are responsible for most battle field-related deaths and often represent a scourge on many societies in diverse global regions. Without denying the horrendous effects of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, in numerical terms, conventional weapons seem to be the real weapons of mass destruction, particularly fuelled by the illicit and irresponsible trade in such weapons. At the same time, most conventional weapons are considered legitimate instruments of self-defence for states. There is no taboo on possessing and trading in conventional weapons and such trade is worth billions of dollars a year. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the transfers (which include trade, but also loans, leases and gifts) in major conventional weapons increased 24 per cent between the period 2002-2006 and 2007-2011 (SIPRI 2012: 12). The legitimacy and profitability of the arms trade make arms control measures often difficult to realize. The prospective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aims to regulate the trade in conventional arms, rather than to limit or outlaw it. From 2-27 July 2012 the member states of the United Nations (UN) gathered in New York to participate in the UN Conference on the ATT. These four weeks of negotiations produced a draft treaty text, but no consensus could be reached on a final text for adoption. In this GGI Analysis Paper, Katherine Prizeman and Niels van Willigen provide essential background and concrete recommendations for a last effort to negotiate a consensus treaty during the “Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty” scheduled to take place 18-28 March 2013.

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