Green Cross International and Global Green USA Applaud United Nations General Assembly Support for New Arms Trade Treaty

Calls for All Countries to Sign and Ratify

Saturday, April 6 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, Green Cross International and Global Green USA applauded the United Nations General Assembly's endorsement of the new Arms Trade Treaty, which will for the first time establish common international standards that must be met before states authorize transfers of conventional weapons or export ammunition and weapons parts and components. The treaty will be open for signature on June, 2013.

The vote was 154 in support, 3 opposed, and 23 abstentions. The three countries opposed were Iran,  North Korea, and Syria. Those abstaining included leading arms exporters such as China and Russia, and those with questionable human rights policies (Bahrain, Myanmar, Sri Lanka).

The treaty:

1.  Requires states to establish regulations for arms imports and exports in eight major categories: battle tanks; armed combat vehicles; large-caliber artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships; missiles and missile launchers; and small arms and light weapons.

2. Requires states to assess the potential that the transfer "could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law" and "international human rights law," terrorism, organized crime, and take into account the risk of serious acts of gender-based violence or acts of violence against women and children. If there is an overriding risk of any of these negative consequences, states are required not to authorize the export.

3. Prohibits transfers of arms of exports of ammunition or weapons parts and components if the state "has knowledge" that the transfer would be used in the commission of "genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians, or other war crimes."

4. Requires that all states establish effective regulations on the export of ammunition and weapons parts and components, which often allow conflicts to continue long after original arms transfers have been executed.

5. Requires regular, annual reporting on all arms transfers, which would help improve transparency and public accountability for states' actions.

6. Calls for regular conferences of states parties to review implementation of the treaty and developments in the field of conventional arms, which should allow states to consider new types of conventional weapons that may emerge.

Dr. Paul Walker, Green Cross Director of Security and Sustainability, called the new treaty "a long-awaited and historic step forward towards limiting the global proliferation of deadly weapons. Although this multilateral agreement has been more than two decades in the making, it begins to regulate the booming $70 billion annual weapons market, and will no doubt also begin to limits local and regional warfare. Green Cross International urges all countries to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty this year."