The landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms – from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships – will enter into force today on 24 December 2014. ATT is the first international Treaty to establish common standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons. In this respect, this treaty will help promote security, stability and economic development by preventing the diversion of weapons to terrorist and other criminal groups.
Not long ago, 6, December 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/89 entitled “Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”. Since the treaty opened for signature on 3 June 2013, 130 states have signed and 60 have ratified it, reflecting the broad support for the treaty within the international community.
All EU Member States have signed the Treaty and all ratifications will be completed shortly. The EU has been an active supporter of the principles of greater responsibility and transparency in arms trade enshrined in the Treaty and has adopted a new programme through which it will support States that wish to receive assistance.
The terms of a treaty will usually specify how and when it comes into force. Many multilateral treaties require that a specified number of States consent to be bound before the treaty can enter into force. On 25 September 2014 a group of eight states—Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay— deposited their instruments of ratification, bringing the total number of ratifying states to 53.
The ATT will therefore enter into force on 24 December 2014—90 days after the 50th ratification. By today 57 countries ratified the treaty. The Treaty now needs to gain universal applicability in order to be truly effective. It also needs to be fully implemented.