In 2006, States began exploring the feasibility and elements of a global "Arms Trade Treaty." In January 2010, the UN General Assembly decided to convene the 2012 UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. A first Diplomatic Conference in July 2012 failed to reach an agreement. A final Diplomatic Conference was convened for March 2013. After nine working days of intensive negotiations, the Final Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty ended without States reaching consensus on the text of the treaty as required by the Conference’s rules of procedure. However, on 2 April 2013, the UN General Assembly voted by a large majority in favour of adopting the Arms Trade Treaty.
In the view of the ICRC, the Arms Trade Treaty has a solid humanitarian basis. It regulates international transfers of conventional arms, ammunition, and parts and components, with a view, notably, to reducing human suffering. The Treaty subjects arms transfer decisions to humanitarian concerns by forbidding transfers when there is a defined level of risk that war crimes or serious violations of international human rights law will be committed. Moreover, a key principle underpinning the Treaty, and explicitly recognized in the text, is the duty of the States to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law.
The ATT was opened for signature on 3 June 2013. It will enter into force 90 days following the deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval. If a State submits its instrument after this date, then the Treaty will enter into force for that State 90 days after the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.