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Arms Trade Treaty: agreement as urgent as ever despite failure

30-07-2012 News Footage Ref. AV02N

After a full month of difficult negotiations between States at United Nations Headquarters in New York, delegates have not reached agreement to adopt a long-awaited and much needed Arms Trade Treaty.

  • Footage available from the ICRC Video Newsroom (www.icrcvideonewsroom.org)
  • Transmitted worldwide on Eurovision News Exchange, 28 July 2012


For more information, please contact Didier Revol, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 82, e-mail

After a full month of difficult negotiations between States at United Nations Headquarters in New York, delegates have not reached agreement to adopt a long-awaited and much needed Arms Trade Treaty.  

The treaty, which would have needed to be adopted by consensus, would have provided an international framework and sent common standards for international transfers of conventional weapons. Not only does the draft treaty contain provisions regulating the export and the import of arms between States but it also includes provisions to prevent diversion of arms into the illicit market, which for decades has helped fuelled conflicts and destabilized entire regions.

Says Peter Herby, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Arms Unit: “States must no longer transfer weapons if they are going to be used for war crimes or serious violations of human rights: this has been virtually the core of this treaty. So we believe that this process has established the norm and the expectation. What is needed now is to capture this in an internationally legally binding treaty and this has to be completed.”

Due to many inconsistencies between national legislations or even a total absence of regulation in certain countries, arms circulate more easily around the world than bananas or dinosaur bones.

Every day, countless people die in armed violence fuelled by the poorly regulated international arms trade.

The ICRC is witness to the effects of inadequate control over transfers of conventional weapons. Tens of thousands of victims receive ICRC medical support every year. All too often, however, assistance for the sick and wounded is simply not available because humanitarian operations have been suspended or delayed owing to armed attacks and armed security threats.

Armed conflicts produce an even greater toll of indirect civilian deaths, as those affected by armed conflict are frequently displaced; subject to the destruction of social and economic infrastructure; and denied rights and access to healthcare, water, food and shelter; leading to rising malnutrition, starvation and otherwise preventable diseases.

In many contexts where weapons are widely available, civilians face similar risks of being wounded or killed in weapons-related violence after an armed conflict has ended as during it.

Shotlist

00 00: Rebel troops in Libyan desert with heavy smoke

00 07: Rebels in desert shooting

00 13: Rebels firing from behind wall

00 18: Rebels firing, then close explosion

00 23: Rebels loading a round of ammunition

00 31: Ammunitions (2 illustrative shots from Congo-Brazzaville)

00 44: Rebel fighters on pick-up (northern Mali)

00 50: Same fighters on foot

00 56: Child soldiers in West Africa (2 shots)

01 14: Armed men on pick-up in Liberia

01 19: People fleeing fighting in Monrovia (2 shots)

01 34: Family entering destroyed apartment (4 shots)

02 12: Ambulance arriving to Kandahar Hospital with heavily wounded – Afghanistan (2 shots)

02 24: No Weapons board on hospital wall

02 26: patient carried on stretcher in hospital corridor (2 shots)

02 33: Surgeons dressing wound (2 shots)

02 40: Young boy with bandage on stumps (2 shots)

02 47: Antonov plane on African runway

02 55: ITW Peter Herby Head of ICRC Arms Unit (English – 21”)
“The ICRC is very disappointed that States were unable to adopt the treaty this week as planned. Clearly, the stakes in these negotiations were very very high and the stakes for human lives, million and million of human lives were extremely high. For this reason, it’s humanitarian imperative that these efforts continue and be concluded in the near future.”

03 16: ITW Peter Herby Head of ICRC Arms Unit (English – 25”)
“States must no longer transfer weapons if they are going to be used for war crimes or serious violations of human rights: this has been virtually the core of this treaty. So we believe that this process has established the norm and the expectation. What is needed now is to capture this in an internationally legally binding treaty and this has to be completed.”

03 41: Statue of gun in front of UN headquarters in NYC

03 45: Flags on poles in front of HQ

03 49: ATT delegates discussing before start of plenary session (3 shots)

04 02: ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Philippe Stoll, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 49


  • Copyright: ICRC Access All
  • Release year: 2012
  • Production locations: UN headquarters in NYC and various countries: Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Afghanistan, etc.
  • Running time: 4'02 min
  • Reference: AV02N


This newscut contains graphic footage