The global trade in conventional weapons – from warships and battle tanks to fighter jets and machine guns – remains poorly regulated. No set of internationally agreed standards exist to guide States in making arms transfer decisions. That is why, too often, weapons and ammunition end up in the hands of human rights violators and armed groups.

The General Assembly of the United Nations, in which all countries come together, has decided to change this situation. It has convened a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), from 2 to 27 July 2012, “to negotiate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms”.

Each Member State of the UN has its national perspective and position on what should be covered by an ATT. It is up to the governments to negotiate the terms and conditions of the treaty, eventually agreeing at the end of the conference on a balanced outcome that will have a positive effect on regional and global security.

As with all treaties, no country can be forced to join a future ATT. The United Nations Secretariat provides the venue for these talks between governmental representatives, and facilitates their meetings – but it is not a party to the negotiations. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as human rights and development groups, guncontrol organizations and gun-rights supporters, have shown a keen interest in the ATT negotiations.

Source: ATT Fact Sheet by United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)

UN website: UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Under Tab Contents a negotiation draft from the July 2012 Conference can be accessed, article by article. As newer versions come available, changes will be included here.


The ATT will aim to:

  • Create a level playing field for global arms transfers by requiring all exporting countries to abide by similar standards for export controls
  • Fill a gap in international efforts to curb the illegal arms trade
  • Restrict the supply of weapons to human rights abusers, terrorists and organized criminal groups
  • Bring more transparency to the global arms market.

The ATT will not:

  • Interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession
  • Create any international gun registers
  • Lower arms regulation standards in countries where these are already at a high level
  • Ban, or prohibit the export of, any type of weapons
  • Impair States’ legitimate right to self-defence.

Source: ATT Fact Sheet by United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)


Around 170 countries at the negotiation table.

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