Amnesty International has welcomed Ireland’s ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) today, the first anniversary of the ATT’s adoption by the UN General Assembly.
But the organisation also expressed disappointment that so many states that backed the ATT’s adoption have yet to even sign it.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said, “The Irish Government was one of the treaty’s strongest supporters. Its representatives in the UN negotiations – and the EU parallel discussions – worked hard to ensure a strong treaty was agreed. So we are delighted to see Ireland amongst the first EU states to ratify it.
“We urgently need an international system to stop arms getting into the hands of those who would use them to commit serious human rights violations. The ATT provides a firm foundation upon which to build such a system. But only if ratified and implemented by states in good faith.
“This day last year, 155 states voted in the UN General Assembly to adopt the ATT. But a large number of these states have yet to even sign it. These are mostly states where armed conflicts, violent repression and gun violence are frequent, and whose populations have the most to gain from the treaty. This is a major failure of political leadership.”
We urgently need an international system to stop arms getting into the hands of those who would use them to commit serious human rights violations. The ATT provides a firm foundation upon which to build such a system. But only if ratified and implemented by states in good faith.Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland
Amnesty International and its partners will continue to push for all governments not just to sign and ratify the ATT, but also to strictly implement the treaty as soon as possible.
Mr O’Gorman said, “Some states that supported the ATT at the UN appear to be continuing arms transfers to countries where there is a clear risk they will be used for serious human rights violations and abuses. For example, having signed the ATT in June 2013, the Czech Republic as recently as December 2013 sent tens of thousands of firearms to Egypt’s security forces. These forces have killed hundreds of protesters during demonstrations following the military’s ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.”
Ireland was among 17 EU member states to ratify the ATT between 10am and 11am New York time (3pm and 4pm Irish time) today in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters in New York. This, together with El Salvador’s ratification, brought the total ratifications to 31. However, this still falls far short of the 50 needed for the treaty to enter into force.
Ireland signed the ATT when it opened for signature in June 2013. States that have signed and ratified it are legally bound by its provisions. States that have just signed have indicated an intention to ratify and thus become legally bound, and also to refrain from any action that would undermine the ATT’s object and purpose.
If widely ratified and then implemented effectively and robustly, the ATT will stop the flow of weapons to countries when it is known they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Implementing the ATT strictly will also require states to assess the risk of transferring arms to another country: states have agreed the transfer will not go forward where there is an overriding risk the weapons could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.
States that have now ratified the ATT, including those ratifying today in bold:
Albania, Bulgaria, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Kingdom.