Arms Trade Treaty – UN human rights experts urge all States to ratify it and consider disarmament
Geneva, 23 December 2014 – A group of United Nations human rights experts urged all Governments around the world to
ratify the landmark United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that will enter into force tomorrow. So far, only 60 out of the 130
Treaty signatories have ratified it. (Check the status of ratifications: http://disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/att
The UN Arms Trade Treaty is the first legally-binding multilateral agreement that prohibits states from exporting
conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons will be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or war
“The entry into force of this Arms Trade Treaty is a very important step to peace and security,” the UN Special
Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said. “However, further consideration on the issue of
prohibiting the sale of weapons to non-state entities is needed and a subsequent agreement should address outstanding
issues that were left out in the final compromise.”
“Terrorist attacks have become more and more atrocious by the kind of weapons they acquire. This needs to end,” the
expert added, noting that numerous ambiguities remain in the text of the treaty which could end up supporting the arms
industry. “Nothing in the treaty forbids selling weapons to non-state entities. States must intensify their efforts for
disarmament in protecting the right to life and physical security.”
Human rights expert Elzbieta Karska, who currently heads the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, noted that the
prohibited activities of mercenaries, which have threatened peace and security in various regions, have also relied
heavily on the proliferation of arms and weapons. “This treaty is a welcome avenue to curbing the provision of arms to
illicit actors such as mercenaries,” she said.
“Ratifying this treaty will also assist States in regulating non-state entities such as private military and security
companies –which often carry and use arms in their line of work– and ensuring compliance with international law,” Ms.
“The Arms Trade Treaty is a significant first step with the potential to reduce the atrocious human cost of the trade in
conventional weapons and the conflicts such weapons exacerbate, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic
and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, stated.
“Undoubtedly, this treaty constitutes an historic moment toward the goal of meaningful disarmament and the reduction of
hostilities,” Mr. de Zayas said. “More important than this treaty on regulation of the arms trade are efforts at
reduction of weapon stockpiles worldwide and ongoing disarmament negotiations that must be pursued in good faith,
especially in the field of nuclear disarmament.”
The Independent Expert noted that progress on the implementation of this convention would give momentum to the movement
to draft and adopt a convention banning nuclear weapons, as proposed by several Delegations at the Third Conference on
the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held early December in Vienna.
“Such weapons violate the principles of distinction and proportionality – two pillars of international humanitarian law
– and pose the greatest danger to the survival of the human species,” Mr. de Zayas stressed.
“The world needs to stop not only the trade in, but also the profit-driven production of, all arms since once weapons
have been produced, there is a strong incentive to make sure they are put to use somewhere in the world, so as to
continue producing them,” the human rights experts underscored.
The experts proposed conversion strategies so as to gradually recycle resources and manpower to peacetime enterprises
that create jobs and contribute to social justice. “Efforts, as well as resources, ought to be moved from the rational
of armed conflict and instead be shifted toward the advancement of peace and the promotion all human rights,” they
The UN independent experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special
Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s
independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in
all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive
a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual
Learn more, log on to:
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering
The Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IntOrder/Pages/IEInternationalorderIndex.aspx
Check the Arms Trade Treaty facts: http://www.un.org/disarmament/ATT/