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A tank is a tank, no matter how big its gun

By Oliver Sprague, Arms Programme Director for Amnesty International UK

What should the scope of an effective Arms Trade Treaty be?

If your aim is to prevent the use of conventional weapons to commit or facilitate serious crimes against people, then it's obviously necessary to include everything that is used in such abuse and also to encompass all the ways that weapons are transferred across the globe.

Technically this is known, as the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) covers both the equipment it will cover and types of transactions it will regulate.

Amnesty International and humanitarian aid organization Caritas explored these issues in a meeting hosted by the French government at the United Nations in New York this week.

The meeting highlighted serious gaps and loopholes in what is currently being proposed, leaving out large groups of potentially lethal equipment and their parts and components; for example police and internal security equipment, certain types of military vehicles and aircraft and new and emerging weapons technology.

There are also serious problems with narrow definitions, which would leave out of the possible treaty text many transactions and services that facilitate international arms transfers such as the provisions of transport, brokering, finance and technology and assistance.

For the ATT to be effective, it must cover all types of military, police and security equipment and regulate all the ways and  means that these weapons reach the hands of those that use them to kill, injure or terrorize people across the world every minute of every day.