After more than ten days of negotiations, UN members adopted a legally-binding treaty to regulate international weapon transfers. Importantly, the Arms Trade Treaty recognizes the link between the arms trade and gender violence.
United Nations member states deliberated at the Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York from March 18 to 28, 2013. When the conference ended, Iran, Syria and North Korea blocked consensus, however the treaty was adopted April 2 at the United Nations General Assembly with votes in favour from 154 member states.
The final ATT prohibits the provision of weapons to other states if the distributing country has knowledge that the weapons are likely to be used against civilians to commit genocide and other crimes against humanity. The preamble also recognizes that civilians – especially women and children – “account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict and armed violence.”
Article 7 states:
“The exporting State Party… shall take into account the risk of the conventional arms…being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children.”
Ahead of the conference, Laureates from the Nobel Women’s Initiative called for a strong, comprehensive treaty and urged fellow Peace Laureate President Barack Obama to take a leadership role in securing the ATT. The Initiative also partnered with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)’s campaign to include the provision to prevent gender-based violence. The availability of small arms increases sexual violence against women and is a threat to women’s security around the world.
As one woman told Amnesty International, “This treaty, like all treaties, is not a magic formula but if it is strong it will create a safer world.”
For Women, UN Arms Trade Treaty is Just the Beginning, Global Fund for Women.
UN approves first global arms treaty, The Guardian, 2 April 2013.