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Arms Trade Treaty crucial for saving lives

17-03-2013 News Release 13/44

Geneva (ICRC) – Final negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) are set to take place at a diplomatic conference in New York from 18 to 28 March. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls on States to adopt a treaty that is strong and effective, and will save lives by regulating the availability of conventional arms and ammunition.

"Too many civilians are displaced, injured or killed because weapons are widely available not only during armed conflicts, but also after they end. The ready availability of weapons also endangers the provision of humanitarian assistance, and facilitates violations of international humanitarian law," said Peter Maurer, the president of the ICRC. "It is time for governments to adopt strict controls on transfers of all conventional weapons and ammunition." The ICRC, with its extensive experience in armed conflict and other situations of violence throughout the world, is witness to the devastating impact on civilians of poorly regulated arms transfers.

Negotiations towards an Arms Trade Treaty took place at a conference held last July, but ended inconclusively. "The conference in March is a historic opportunity for States to agree on legally binding norms that will ensure that the arms and ammunition they transfer do not end up in the hands of those who are likely to use them to commit war crimes," Mr Maurer said. "A strong treaty is crucial for protecting civilians, for strengthening compliance with humanitarian law, and for saving lives."

The ICRC is calling for a treaty that will ensure effective regulation of transfers of conventional weapons and ammunition of every kind. The treaty should require States to assess the likelihood of serious violations of humanitarian law being committed with the weapons that are to be transferred. It should prohibit transfers when there is a clear risk of that happening.

For further information, please contact:
Philippe Stoll, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 34 43