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ICRC position on scope of an Arms Trade Treaty

13-07-2009 Statement

ICRC statement on scope of an Arms Trade Treaty, open-ended working group towards an Arms Trade Treaty, New York, 13 July 2009

In the view of the ICRC the scope of a future ATT should be a function of its goals and objectives. If this is not the case its objectives could be undermined at the outset by an overly narrow scope. The starting point should simply be “conventional arms” which is what UNGA resolution 63/240 that established this Group refers to.

The question shouldn’t be which conventional weapons should be included in an Arms Trade Treaty but which, if any, should not be included. Any argument that a specific type of weapon should be excluded should be based on evidence that its exclusion would not undermine the goals and objectives of the ATT. If the objectives are as broad as what was discussed here this morning, namely the promotion of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law and the promotion of peace and stability, then it is hard to identify any conventional weapons that would not be relevant.

The view of the ICRC is that all conventional weapons and ammunition should be included in the scope of an ATT.

We are concerned, Mr Chairman, about the focus of some only on the seven categories of weapons referred to in the UN Arms Trade Register plus small arms and light weapons. These parameters would exclude many types of conventional weapons. The seven categories in the register, for example, cover only certain major conventional weapon systems. These categories were identified and defined originally within the framework of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) agreement that aimed at achieving State stability and security in Europe. This was a much different and m ore narrowly defined purpose than an ATT is intended to serve. So limiting the scope of an ATT would undermine its purpose and effectiveness.

Finally, we would like to recall, as we stated in March, that the ICRC believes that the scope of an ATT should include all transfers of conventional arms, as defined in existing international instruments, as well as brokering activities.

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