The arms trade is out of control. The irresponsible trade in arms devastates lives and livelihoods and the world can no longer continue turning a blind eye. In July 2012, governments have a historic opportunity to create a strong Arms Trade Treaty that builds a more secure future for all the world’s citizens. The Arms Trade Treaty must have clear, unambiguous language that covers all conventional arms, ammunition, parts and components. It must include robust and legally binding criteria that prevent arms being transferred where there is a substantial risk that they will be used in violation of international human rights or humanitarian law, or will undermine development. The Arms Trade Treaty must have strong measures for transparency and accountability, and an effective implementation and enforcement mechanism.
Strong treaties gain new members and set international standards; treaties that start out weak rarely get stronger. Governments must not compromise during the final countdown for the sake of securing universal agreement. Under no circumstances should countries agree to a watered down Treaty that fails to control the arms trade and fails to reduce human suffering. Decades from now, those looking back at July 2012 should be able to judge the Arms Trade Treaty as a defining moment for global peace, development and security.