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Saving Lives with Common Sense: The case for continued US support for the Arms Trade Treaty

Saving Lives with Common Sense: The case for continued US support for the Arms Trade Treaty

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Published by Oxfam

On September 25, 2013 US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty is a common-sense agreement that will have a positive impact on US security, civilians living in the midst of armed conflict or unstable environments, and poverty alleviation. By signing the Treaty, the Obama Administration took an important step toward a more secure world. Now is the time for the Senate to do its part and support this life-saving Treaty.

On September 25, 2013 US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty is a common-sense agreement that will have a positive impact on US security, civilians living in the midst of armed conflict or unstable environments, and poverty alleviation. By signing the Treaty, the Obama Administration took an important step toward a more secure world. Now is the time for the Senate to do its part and support this life-saving Treaty.

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Published by: Oxfam on Sep 25, 2013
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10/19/2013

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175 OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER 25 SEPTEMBER 2013
www.oxfam.org 
Control Arms campaigners demonstrate in favor of an Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. Control Arms/ Andrew Kelly
 
SAVING LIVES WITHCOMMON SENSE
The Case for Continued US Support for the Arms Trade Treaty
On September 25, 2013 US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the ArmsTrade Treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty is a common sense agreement thatwill have a positive impact on US security, civilians living in the midst of armed conflict or unstable environments, and poverty alleviation. Bysigning the Treaty, the Obama Administration took an important steptoward a more secure world. Now is the time for the Senate to do its partand support this life-saving Treaty.
 
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SUMMARY
By signing the Arms Trade Treaty on September 25, Secretary JohnKerry took an important step toward a safer and more secure world. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is the first-ever multilateral treaty on the globaltrade in conventional arms. It is a common sense agreement thatestablishes standards for the $40 billion legal international weaponstrade and seeks to reduce the illicit arms trade.The Treaty offers great benefits to the safety of civilians globally and toUS security. It sets clear rules that stigmatize irresponsible armstransfers and will help make it more difficult and expensive for roguearms dealers to supply weapons to war criminals, human rights abusers,criminals, and potential terrorists.The Arms Trade Treaty applies to the international trade in conventionalarms
that is export, import, transit, transshipment, and brokering
andcontains no provisions regulating domestic gun sales or use. TheTreaty
s life saving potential derives from its four central requirements.First, the Treaty bans absolutely the transfer of arms when the exporter knows the weapons will be used for genocide and other atrocity crimes.The Treaty strictly forbids arms transfers for use in genocide, crimesagainst humanity, and war crimes.Second, the Arms Trade Treaty gives governments a set of steps theymust all take prior to transferring arms. Governments must assess therisk of an arms transfer fueling violations of international human rights or international humanitarian law, international organized crime, terrorism,and gender-based violence. If the exporting country finds that the risk of the weapons contributing to such acts is sufficiently high and cannot bemitigated, they may not transfer these arms.Third, the Treaty requires all countries to develop national export andimport control systems. While many countries have strong controlsystems in place, the US Department of State estimates that around 100countries have either grossly inadequate or non-existent systems.Because national governments often do not effectively control armsflows, at least $2.2 billion worth of arms and ammunition was illegallyimported by countries under arms embargoes between 2000 and 2010.Implementing effective national systems is the surest way of preventingunscrupulous arms dealers from trading arms to war criminals andterrorists with impunity.Finally, the Treaty requires governments to be transparent in their armstrade decisions. Without obligations requiring countries to be transparent,the shadowy and secretive global trade in arms and ammunition willcontinue unabated, fuelling corruption and hindering accountability.Furthermore, transparency is the key to enforcing the Arms Trade Treaty.There is no supranational body entrusted with enforcing the Treaty.Instead, the Treaty will be enforced at national level by nationalgovernments. Yet without public information detailing what measures are
 
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taken and which transfers are authorized, governments will not be held toaccount for failing to implement the Treaty. The transparency provisionsof the ATT will help other governments, national legislatures, and civilsociety understand what governments are doing and hold themaccountable.There is a strong case to be made for the US Senate giving its consent toratification of the Arms Trade Treaty. In many ways, existing US law andpolicy on the arms trade mirror the Arms Trade Treaty. Leaders of bothpolitical parties agree that it is in the US national interest to prevent theharm that comes with the illicit and irresponsible arms trade and tofurther the establishment of a global order that allows for the legitimatetransfer of arms. To this end, both Republican and Democraticadministrations have pursued multilateral and bilateral efforts to: restrictarms transfers from fueling atrocities; apprehend and bring arms dealersto justice; add transparency to the arms trade; and enhance cooperationon export controls.Yet measures agreed upon before the Arms Trade Treaty have proveninadequate. Without the clear, strong set of global rules found in the Arms Trade Treaty, governments and other actors will continue totransfer arms to end users that threaten peace, commit abuses, andundermine global efforts to achieve development goals and reducepoverty. Without clear requirements for countries to enact and enforcedomestic laws governing arms flows, dealers will continue to find safehavens from which to base their operations and trade arms to war criminals with impunity. Without obligations on transparency, theshadowy and secretive global trade in arms and ammunition will continueunabated, fuelling corruption and hindering accountability.The Arms Trade Treaty offers the United States and the worldhumanitarian, security, and development benefits. At the same time, the ATT respects the sovereign right of governments to defend themselvesand their allies, and it will not infringe on the legitimate commercial tradeof conventional weapons or domestic firearms rights. The Senate shouldwelcome the Arms Trade Treaty and move forward with providing itsadvice and consent to ratification. President Obama demonstrated strongand conscientious leadership by supporting the Treaty through itsdevelopment and by signing the agreement. It is now time for the Senateto do its part.

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