For an arms trade treaty

For an arms trade treaty

The lack of international mechanisms to regulate the trade of conventional arms is a relevant factor in the intensification of internal conflicts and violence in large cities.

Contrary to what happens in the case of weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, chemical and biological -, there is currently no international agreement that regulates the trade of conventional arms.

Brazil, along with the vast majority of the United Nations Member States, has been working to fill that gap. We are contributing to enable the final United Nations conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which began in New York on March 18th, to produce concrete and significant results.

We are making efforts to be able to adopt an instrument, by the end of the conference, that establishes international parameters to be observed in national processes for the authorization of arms exports. This is not trivial: if adopted, this instrument will represent an important step forward.

The adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty does not mean a lesser emphasis by Brazil on work within the UN for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, which represent the greatest threat to mankind’s very survival. Regarding these weapons, Brazil believes the commitments made at the multilateral level must be fulfilled, as they are essential to reaching our utmost goal of obtaining peace.

The main significance of the ATT lays in the creation of tools for the prevention of and for the fight against arms trafficking, which has contributed to the emergence of conflicts and has increased armed violence in many regions of the world.

Brazil believes the Treaty should expressly prohibit the transfer of weapons by States to non-State actors.

It is also necessary for “end-user certification” to be issued for all transactions, with assurances that the weapons will not be re-exported without previous consent from the original exporter.

It is important to understand that the ATT does not intend to restrict the licit trade of weapons. It is an initiative that aims at increasing the responsibility of States regarding these transactions by conditioning the exports of conventional arms to national controls that obey minimum standards - established multilaterally - without creating undue restrictions to transactions.

By restricting illicit access to instruments of violence, initiatives such as the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty represent important progress not only for the protection of civilian populations in conflict situations, but also of the agenda for the prevention of international conflicts. We must fight for this objective.

The ease with which conventional arms can be obtained through illicit trade multiplies the damage caused by conflicts. And those who suffer the consequences most of the time are unarmed civilians, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

Brazil trusts that it is possible to adopt an agreement in the context of the United Nations that is balanced and non-discriminatory. And that, in this way, an auspicious step can be taken towards a safer and more peaceful international order.

*Antonio de Aguiar Patriota is Minister of External Relations of Brazil