Arms Trade Treaty

United States Signs Arms Trade Treaty on September 25, 2013

 “Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our constitution.” Secretary John Kerry

Secretary Kerry (Sept. 25): "I am very pleased to have signed this treaty here today. I signed it because President Obama knows that from decades of efforts that at any time that we work with – cooperatively to address the illicit trade in conventional weapons , we make the world a safer place. And this treaty is a significant step in that effort." Full Text» Fact Sheet: The Arms Trade Treaty»

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional arms. The Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on April 2, 2013 and opened for signature on June 3, 2013. On September 25, the United States became the 91st state to sign the Treaty. As of October, 113 states have signed and 7 states have ratified it. The Arms Trade Treaty will enter into force following ratification by 50 states. The United States worked closely with our international partners during the negotiations to secure a treaty that advances global security and respects national sovereignty and the legitimate arms trade.



  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld.
    • There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.
    • There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.
  • The U.S. opposed provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.
  • The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.
  • There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.
  • There will be no lowering of current international standards.
  • Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.
  • The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.
  • There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.


Why Did the United States Support the ATT Negotiations?

  • Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action based on the highest standards of responsibility to control the international transfer of arms.
  • The United States has in place an extensive and rigorous system of controls that most agree is the “gold standard” of export controls for arms transfers. We engage and assist other states both bilaterally and through multilateral organizations and regimes to raise their standards and to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions.
  • An Arms Trade Treaty initiative conducted on the basis of consensus presents us with the opportunity to promote the same high standards for the entire international community that the United States and other responsible arms exporters already have in place to ensure that weaponry is transferred for legitimate purposes. More information on the ATT»

Elements of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

Date: 05/03/2012 Location: Kigali Description: A two-day regional conference on illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), underway in Kigali, highlighted the need for African countries to cooperate in the fight against illegal fire arms trade.  © Vanguard


The United States is prepared to work for strong international standards in the international arms trade, provided that the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations operates under the rule of consensus decision-making. Consensus is needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.


  • The ATT should include all advanced conventional weapons, including tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery systems, military aircraft, military helicopters, naval vessels, missiles, missile launchers, small arms and light weapons, and combat support equipment. It should also include parts, components, and/or technology to manufacture, modify, or repair the covered items.
  • The ATT should be limited to international transfers. Imports, exports, transit, transshipment, or brokering of conventional arms, whether the transfers are state-to-state, state-to-private end-user, commercial sales, leases, or loans/gifts.


  • No new international organization should be created to enforce an ATT. Exports will ultimately be a national decision.
  • Controls: Controls must be established on a national basis in accordance with laws and regulations. Governments must be able to control the import, export, transshipment, and brokering of the regulated items, in tangible or intangible form.
  • Criteria. Possible criteria for States Parties to employ in assessing applications for international transfers could include the following:
    • Applicable international law, including the UN Charter, arms embargoes, and other sanctions.
    • The human rights, terrorism, and proliferation record of the recipient and the potential for misuse of the export in question.
    • Appropriateness of the transfer in responding to or satisfying legitimate recipient security needs.
    • Impact on regional stability. The risk of adverse economic or political impacts within the recipient nation and the surrounding region, and the degree to which security needs can be addressed by other means.
  • Monitoring and Enforcement: The ATT should require signatory states to monitor and enforce the controls established, under their own domestic laws.

More information on Elements of Arms Control Treaty»

To learn more about U.S. Export Controls please go to: //