Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

United Nations: Arms Trade Treaty Scheduled to Become Effective

(Sept. 30, 2014) The United Nations announced on September 25, 2014, that the Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly in 2013 will enter into force in 90 days. It reached the necessary number of 50 ratifications on that date with the deposit of instruments of ratification by eight countries: Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal, and Uruguay. On the same date, Georgia and Namibia signed the treaty. (UN Treaty Regulating Global Arms Trade Set to Enter into Force, UN NEWS CENTRE (Sept. 25, 2014); Arms Trade Treaty (adopted Apr. 2, 2013), United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs website.)

The purpose of the treaty is to set standards for weapons transfers and for efforts to prevent the diversion of those weapons to unintended locations. The treaty bans the transfer of arms to those who would use them for genocide, crimes against humanity, and some war crimes. The provisions cover conventional arms including tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, warships, missiles and their launchers, and small weapons. (UN Treaty Regulating Global Arms Trade Set to Enter into Force, supra.)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the ratifications, stating:

Today we can look ahead with satisfaction to the date of this historic new Treaty’s entry into force. Now we must work for its efficient implementation and seek its universalisation so that the regulation of armaments – as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations – can become a reality once and for all. (Id.)

Ban also thanked the civil society organizations that worked to get the ratifications done in a speedy manner. He went on to state that the “need for the Arms Trade Treaty remains abundantly clear,” and then referred to unscrupulous arms dealers, poorly guarded ammunition depots, weapons used by despotic rulers on their own citizens, and government and civilian equipment that goes missing. He noted that pirates and drug-traffickers can amass deadly weapons. (Press Release, U.N. Secretary-General, Arms Trade Treaty Enters Force, Secretary-General Announces, Urging Rapid Weapons Regulation through Implementation, Universalization, U.N. Press Release SG/SM/16201 (Sept. 25, 2014).)