Arms Trade Treaty
History is Made:
U.S. Signs the Arms Trade Treaty!
Read more statements of support from faith and military leaders.
Why Care About the ATT?
Currently there are more laws governing the international sale of bananas and iPods than grenade launchers and AK-47s. As a result, the bullets killing our troops in Afghanistan and the weapons used by warlords to commit genocide in Africa are purchased on the black market, which thrives in this unregulated environment. The Arms Trade Treaty is an opportunity to stem the flow of illegal weapons and ammunition to warlords, dictators and terrorists.
Two Rationales for the Treaty:
- It would prevent transfers of arms to states that shouldn’t receive them. These include human rights violators, nations who support terrorists, and other dangerous actors.
- It would hinder the international arms black market. Since there are no global regulations for weapons sales, it is easier for black market arms dealers to acquire and resell weapons to terrorist groups across international borders than it would be under the Arms Trade Treaty.
Key Elements of a Strong Arms Trade Treaty:
- Ammunition must be covered in the treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty’s ability to prevent crimes against humanity in countries already saturated with weapons will be dramatically curtailed if the international sale of ammunition is excluded from the treaty and remains completely unregulated. The United States must support this provision in order for the treaty to have any real impact.
- The treaty must link criteria to human rights law and international humanitarian law, preventing the sale of arms to documented human rights violators.
- The treaty must apply to a broad scope of weapons and types of trade. This treaty will be most effective if it includes the broadest range of conventional arms possible.
Our Moral and Security Interests
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” begins the famous prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. For millions of God’s children all over the world, the reality of peace is only a dream. For those living in conflict zones, power is not established through elections, but by who has the most guns and bullets. War lords, rival clans and drug smugglers thrive off black market arms trade. And because there are currently no agreements regulating international weapons sales, those with malicious intent can exploit loopholes in the laws set by individual states to keep themselves armed. The ATT would be the first ever agreement that would set standards for international arms sales and close those loopholes.
Read the letter to American Churches on Day of Fasting from Bishop Elias of Southern Sudan
Read more statements of support from Faith and Military Leader
See Our Ad Lifting Up Some of the Names Among Thousands Praying for the Treaty
The ATT will not impact domestic gun laws in any way or restrict arms trade between legitimate actors. What it will do is ensure that countries enforce common sense regulations that can dramatically stem the flow of weapons into the hands of bad actors. As the largest arms exporter in the world, and also the country with some of the strictest regulations, it is essential that the U.S. use its moral leadership to push for robust and forceful regulations. To meet this standard, the treaty must include provisions that require countries to certify that the weapons they sell will not be used in violation of international human rights. And, because many conflict zones already have a plentiful supply of weapons, the treaty must cover the sale of ammunition if it is going to effectively rein in violence.
In too many places, women who must walk miles each day to draw water for their families face the real likelihood that they will be raped at gunpoint. Families in impoverished regions live with the knowledge that at any moment they could be forced from their homes by violent conflict in which they play no part. Parents carry with them the ever present dread that the next innocent victim caught in gun fire could be their child. From the Sudan, to Kosovo, to Burma, to the Somali coast and Mexican border, the continents and contexts are different, but the pain and grief caused by the unregulated flow of arms is the same. In Afghanistan and Iraq, these weapons can even end up being used against our troops. In the face of these realities, few will oppose ATT in the open. But there are a number of special interests operating in the shadows seeking to undermine negotiations. That is why it’s important for people to speak out.
Black market arms trade and violence fueled by under-regulated weapons is a global problem. It requires a global solution. While no treaty can end all violence, the Arms Trade Treaty will stem the flow of dangerous weapons across international borders into the hands of evil actors and will be an important step toward creating a more peaceful and stable world.