At least 500,000 people die every year on average and millions more are displaced and abused as result of armed violence and conflict
The USA is by far the world’s largest arms trader, accounting for around 30 per cent of conventional arms transfers in terms of value
The USA supplies arms to more than 170 countries and has a mixed record of suspending arms supplies on human rights grounds
86 countries have signed the ATT to date
Many – including key arms-producing countries in the European Union – are in the process of ratifying the ATT.
Shortly after 50 countries have ratified the treaty it will enter into force
Following reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry will sign the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of the USA on Wednesday morning, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:
“This is a milestone towards ending the flow of conventional arms that fuel atrocities and abuse. The USA is the world's largest arms dealer, but has so far had a mixed record of suspending arms supplies on human rights grounds.
“We now need to see this commitment by the US - and the 86 other countries that have signed the Arms Trade Treaty - matched by action. They must implement the Treaty and bring to an end the supply of weapons to countries where they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations.
“The tragic situation in Syria underlines the horrific human cost of the reckless global arms trade. The Arms Trade Treaty is the opportunity to prevent such human suffering in the future. Governments must seize this once in a lifetime opportunity. The world is now waiting for China and Russia to match the US commitment."
Amnesty International has campaigned since the early 1990s to achieve robust, legally binding global rules on international arms transfers to stem the flow of conventional arms and munitions that fuel atrocities and abuse. The organization believes that the Arms Trade Treaty represents a significant step towards this goal and provides a firm foundation to better regulate the international flow of weapons.
The ATT prohibits states from transferring conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The Treaty also obligates all governments to assess the risk of transferring arms, ammunition or components to another country where they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Where that overriding risk is real and cannot be mitigated, states have agreed the transfer will not go forward.