Following decades of effort on the part of civil society and governments, the Arms Trade Treaty, a legally binding Treaty setting new international standards and strict controls over the global trade in conventional arms, became enshrined in international law on 24th December 2014.
It is civilian populations that continue to pay the price of conflicts both in terms of short-term dislocation but also in respect of longer-term impacts resulting from the collapse of government services, in particular education and healthcare, and lost economic development opportunities, blighting the prospects of future generations.
Approximately 60 percent of serious human rights violations documented by Amnesty International in a 10-year structured sample involved the use of small arms and light weapons.
The World Bank has estimated that 1.5 billion people, roughly one-fifth of humanity, are affected by some form of violence or insecurity.
Iin order for the ATT to achieve its huge potential it will need to be robustly implemented by all states parties. Much remains to be done in order to ensure the effectiveness of the Treaty. This includes renewed political commitment on the part of all states parties and signatories to ensure that they uphold their obligations under the ATT.
Most notable amongst these is the requirement that states must not transfer weapons that would be used in the perpetration of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity.
This is of particular importance given the vast human suffering caused by recent and ongoing violent conflicts in Israel and Gaza, Iraq and Syria,Yemen, South Sudan, Ukraine and others, all of which have been fuelled by irresponsible arms transfers.
Source: Elizabeth Kirkham Small Arms and Tranfsers Adviser for Saferworld