GoJIL Vol. 5, No. 2 (2013)
"All’s Well That Ends Well" or "Much Ado About Nothing"?: A Commentary on the Arms Trade Treaty
To date no international treaty comprehensively regulates the international trade in conventional arms. In 2012 and 2013, two conferences were convened under the auspices of the United Nations to adopt an ‘Arms Trade Treaty’ putting an end to this state of affairs. Both failed to reach consensus on the final treaty draft before them. Nevertheless, on 2 April 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted the final draft submitted by the President of the second conference and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is now open for signature and will enter into force after its fiftieth ratification. This article analyzes the legal value of the provisions enshrined in the ATT by concentrating on its scope, substantive obligations, and implementation. It concludes that while much criticism is in order with regard to ambiguous language and potential loopholes in the treaty, it still represents progress as it will provide for written obligations which States Parties must follow when deciding on arms transfer authorizations. Whether the treaty will actually help victims of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law on the ground, however, depends on its ratification by major supplier States and on how far States Parties will be willing to go when implementing and enforcing its provisions.
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