It’s Official! United States Signs U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Secretary of State John Kerry signing the Arms Trade Treaty (Photo Credit: Adotei Akwei).

Secretary of State John Kerry signing the Arms Trade Treaty (Photo Credit: Adotei Akwei).

By Nate Smith, Amnesty International USA MSP Thematic Specialist

In an important step forward for human rights and international law, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on behalf of the United States earlier today.

Coming in the midst of concerns about the supply of weapons to Syrian government and Syrian rebels, Kerry’s signature signals the intention of the U.S., the world’s largest arms exporter, to abide by the terms of the treaty.

The treaty unequivocally bans arms transfers that are in violation of a U.N. arms embargo or that exporters have reason to know will be used to commit genocide and other grievous war crimes. Under the treaty, all exporting states have a new obligation to assess the risk that the weapons they provide will be used in human rights abuse and to halt such transfers where that risk is overwhelming.

532831_10150853540241363_935881404_nThe U.S. commitment is a critical step forward for the ATT process, ensuring that the majority of future arms exports will be ATT-compliant. Added to the signatures of some 86 other countries, the U.S. signature carries weight proportionate to its outsize role in the arms trade.

Amnesty International has advocated for an ATT with strong human rights protections for upwards of two decades. Treaties help shape international expectations and behavior, and this treaty is a major step toward enshrining human rights concerns explicitly in international law.

While Amnesty International USA will continue to advocate strongly for U.S. ratification, the signature and its attendant commitment confers increased legitimacy on the ATT. Crucially, it also increases international political pressure on other nations, such as Russia and China, to add their signatures and declare their intentions.

Now we all need to recommit ourselves to fighting for the effective implementation of the treaty and to making sure that the treaty’s words do not just stay on paper.

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19 thoughts on “It’s Official! United States Signs U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

  1. I am happy to hear this. One small step for the US, but each step adds to the one before until war is no more.

    • It appears that 26% of the arms exporters are "anonymous".
      The first figures add up to 74%, so who are the others?

  2. International law is routinely violated by the U.S., e.g., Manning is/was tortured. The U.S. spies and masterminds/funds coups on foreign soil. It initiates wars against sovereign countries. Millions have died at the hands of the American Empire. Millions are caged for victimless crimes (political prisoners). The most powerful nation on earth is out of control and its citizens keep supporting it. Why should I celebrate a treaty which is unenforceable?

    • So true… it's a shame, too; think about where the world would be if such a powerful nation were used for good, if resources were appropriated more equally, and where the conditioned drive toward consumerism shifted back to the basics. Life is beautiful and simple and enjoyable when you pop that little bubble and become aware.

  3. Are our arms trades in compliance or do we just manufacture the weapons and hope for the best?

  4. Hallelujah! Let's stop providing the means for dictators and strongmen to oppress those who are trying to live in peace, care for the land and raise their families. The great shame is that countries who profess to be the protectors of women and children are selling arms to those who abuse them.

  5. Hoorah! And please Note Well: the Arms Trade Treaty comes under the umbrella of so-called 'women's issues,' along with the Rome Statute, the CTBT, the Kyoto Protocol, CEDAW, CRC, and all other human rights treaties. Those all are women's-and-men's issues equally.

    Not clear? Check Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent Security Council resolutions that lay out the basics on this concept.

  6. I felt so good reading about this, I had to write! Thank you (Us) Amnesty International!

  7. from here onward to a more PEACEFUL world. good job Amnesty and all supporters the ancient one
    the mariana isles

  8. It is such a reassurance that there is somebody struggling to keep a watch and do whatever it can to stand with individuals and communities in crushing grips of goliaths. I believe that Amnesty is not receiving the kind of support and in measure it deserves. The tracks have become over-beaten. It is high time Amnesty reveiwed interalia its roles and ways .

  9. Bravo! Amnesty International the source of peace.May God bless those whose efforts have urged the USA to sign a histroic treaty to end irresponsible arms sales around the World.
    Thanks.Ahmed b. kamarakeh.Conakry – Guinea.

  10. It is a good step towards abuse of arms against human rights. Where we see in these days use of force to use things against innocent people who have never dealt with these type of conditions. It is a plea to Amnesty also to take care of people who have never did anything, who are not capable of working. If you cannot take care of innocent people it is fine but at least we have a right to protect our health otherwise when we fed up I really feel like leaving this world behind.but I have responsibilities.we have at least freedom to keep our health and promises when our partners come and don't care of our health and we'll being. On surface at least it looks fine but never play with charged gun! I know people are not educated or don't want to listen. But I have a right not to work considering at least my own problem.i cannot support abuse until a very end or my death.thanks for listening!