The Arms Trade Treaty
The creation of a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is an initiative of Amnesty International and remains one of our priorities. After twenty years of global campaigning and advocacy by Amnesty International with its partners, the ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014. This is a huge victory for all those involved and marks a historic breakthrough for human rights protection. So far 130 states have signed the Treaty and 61 have ratified it. The rules of the ATT, if properly implemented, will stop a wide range of arms flows when the sending state knows those weapons would be used for human atrocities and grave abuses of human rights.
For the first time, there is a Treaty that explicitly embeds human rights rules in the control of conventional arms. The Treaty’s human rights rules are simple – if a state has knowledge at the time of authorization of the arms transfer that those arms would be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes then the transfer must not be permitted. Also, if there is a substantial risk that arms exported to another country will contribute to serious human rights abuses, those arms supplies must also be stopped. There must be no more arms exported for atrocities or for grave human rights abuses.
States that are parties to the Treaty will meet and report regularly, and can strengthen it over time. We must keep pushing to get as many states as possible to effectively implement the Treaty in order for it to have the potential to save lives and livelihoods. You can find out here if your country has joined the Treaty: http://disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/att
Arms Control and Human Rights
The irresponsible transfer of arms and other military, security and policing equipment poses grave threats to human rights worldwide and is a major concern of Amnesty International. As global production and markets for these items spread internationally, the easy availability of “tools of violence” enables the suppression of human rights, exacerbating armed conflicts and state repression. Also, the proliferation and abuse of small arms fuels epidemic levels of gun deaths and injuries in some countries.
In addition, the continuous development of new military, security and policing technologies is presenting international challenges to human rights. New munitions with immense destructive power and some that have indiscriminate effects, as well as surveillance technologies and robotic weapons systems are entering the markets. The world now even faces the growing prospect of fully autonomous weapons, or “Killer Robots”, being deployed which can choose targets and attack without meaningful human control.
Amnesty International researches and takes action to expose and devise proposals to help address these human rights problems, above all those posed by the irresponsible arms trade and misuse of conventional arms, especially small arms, inhumane weapons of warfare, ‘less lethal’ weapons used in policing and prisons and the trade in equipment used for torture.