The Arms Trade Treaty
The Arms Trade Treaty is the result of an international consensus that there is a need for global arms regulation. This belief began to develop after the Cold War in response to consequences facing the international community from countries whom purchased arms unimpeded and used them towards aggressive and oppressive ends. The Arms Trade treaty has been applauded as an initial framework to begin practical implementation of effective arms regulations through the context of international consensus in a way that will reduce egregious human rights violations and increase weapons accountability as well as regional stability. There are criticisms as to the future effectiveness of the treaty because the scope of the treaty covers arms sales, not other forms of arms transfer and because major arms exporters have abstained from participating in the treaty. These realities are staunch hurdles towards the future effectiveness of governing policies that may evolve from the treaty. Because the treaty has not reached the stage of ratification, an actual analysis of the impacts of this treaty have yet to be seen.
The origins of the international arms regulation and thus, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) can be traced back to the start of the Cold War. NATO had an interest in slowing the transfer of advanced military technologies to the Soviet Union. They created the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) to block arms, industrial technologies, and “atomic” technologies from being exported to the Soviet Union from countries in the Warsaw Pact. This was not a nonproliferation regime and its limited scope proved ill-equipped to handle the emerging problems of the Post-Cold War era. This was evident during the 1991 Persian Gulf War where the Iraqi military was able to build the world’s fourth-largest military with $40 billion in foreign weapons purchases.(Lewis, 2005) After the war, western countries began working on international agreements aimed to stop destabilizing accumulations like the arms transfer component in the Middle East. (Collina, 2012) The idea for these international agreements was proposed by the United Kingdom which wanted a global regime aimed at “avoiding arms transfers that could destabilize a region, put human rights at risk, or provide inappropriately advanced technology.” (Lewis, 2005) The language set forth in this goal would lead to a chain of international agreements and guidelines aimed at reducing illicit arms trade and defining the parameters of what illicit arms trade entailed; the United Nations (UN) Registry for Conventional Arms in 1991, the US begins work on the US Code of Conduct Bill in 1993, the Warsenaar Agreement in 1996, UN Guidelines for International Arms Transfers in 1996,Oscar Arias and a group of Nobel Laureates produce first draft of the International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers in 1997, European Code of Conduct in 1998, US passes International Code of Conduct in 1999, UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in 2001, Organization of American States (OAS) Model Regulations for the Control of the International Movement of Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition in 2003, Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region adopt the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2004, UN begins work on a global arms trade treaty in 2006, the General Assembly of the UN votes overwhelmingly for approval of the global Arms Trade Treaty on April 2, 2013. (Shah, 2008)(Charbanneau, 2013) For the two decades following the end of the Cold War, the world has been moving in the direction towards a global consensus on how we should provide accountability and responsibility to the selling of weapons culminating with an almost unanimous agreement laid out in the...
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