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50 states join the Arms Trade Treaty:

The global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will enter into force on 24 December 2014 after the 50th country ratified the agreement on Thursday. Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted the treaty, designed to regulate the trade in conventional arms, by an overwhelming majority, with 154 countries voting yes.

Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay are the latest states to confirm ratification of the treaty, bringing the total number of countries to 53. Thursday also saw Georgia and Namibia sign the ATT.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “All actors involved in the arms trade must be held accountable. In adopting the Arms Trade Treaty, Member States came together to support a robust, legally binding commitment to provide a measure of hope to millions of people around the world.”

The landmark treaty prohibits states from exporting weapons that would be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism or other serious violations of human rights. It also requires regular, annual reporting on all arms transfers, which would help improve transparency and public accountability for states’ actions.

The ATT is not a perfect treaty. AOAV has in the past highlighted that there is no international implementation or oversight mechanism for the ATT, leaving it entirely to the states to ensure its proper implementation. Therefore it is crucial that states strictly adhere to the provisions of the treaty.

Yet this marks a new way of doing business, one that should put protecting civilians  far above the profit motive. It has the potential to save countless lives, and AOAV warmly welcomes this week’s achievement. We applaud the leadership of the first 53 nations to join this landmark treaty, and call upon all states to sign up as a matter of priority.