On 14 October 2009 the Obama administration announced in a statement released by Hillary Clinton and the State Department that it was overturning the position of former President George W. Bush's administration, which had opposed a proposed Arms Trade treaty on the grounds that national controls were better. The shift in position by the U.S., the world's biggest arms exporter with a $55 billion-a-year trade in conventional firearms (40 percent of the global total), led to the launching of formal negotiations at the United Nations in order to begin drafting the Arms Trade Treaty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement the U.S. would support the negotiations on condition they are “under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation.” Clinton said the consensus, in which every nation has an effective veto on agreements, was needed “to avoid loopholes in the treaty that can be directly exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.”
So, where's the text?
Further inquiry yielded this:
The UN website is undergoing urgent maintenance and is currently unavailable
Please check back in a short while.
While the treaty is focused on international arms trafficking, it can be used to interfere in national policy/implementation as well. Since the treaty text is unavailable, we can't say for sure. Maybe that is by design.
I found this document...
... which says very little of substance about the treaty, but some passages raise red flags:
3. Each State Party shall take the necessary legislative and administrative
measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the
obligations of this Treaty.
B. Record-keeping, reporting and transparency
1. States Parties shall maintain records of all arms authorizations, transfers and
denials. Such records may contain information, inter alia, on quantity, model or type,
arms transfers authorized and refused, arms actually transferred, and details of transit
State(s), recipient State(s) and end-users. Records shall be kept for a minimum of
2. States Parties shall maintain records of all arms imports and shipments of arms
that transit their territory. Such records may contain information, inter alia, on
quantity, model or type, arms actually transferred, and details of transit State(s),
exporting State(s) and end-users. Records shall be kept for a minimum of ten years.
3. No later than one hundred and eighty days after a State Party’s ratification of
this Treaty, that State shall submit an initial report to the Implementation Support
Unit of all activities undertaken in order to accomplish the implementation of the
Treaty, including, inter alia, domestic laws, regulations and administrative measures.
4. Each State Party shall submit annually to the Implementation Support Unit a
report for the preceding year concerning the transfer of arms, as detailed in section B,
paragraphs 1 and 2, of the present Article, as well as any new national legislation or
other measures used to regulate or control the items and transaction within the
1. Each State Party shall adopt legislation or other appropriate measures,
including appropriate law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, to ensure its ability
to enforce domestically the obligations of this Treaty and to prohibit the transfer of
arms from any location under that State’s jurisdiction and control, unless authorized
in accordance with the Treaty.
2. Each State Party shall establish effective penalties or other appropriate
measures for violations of this Treaty by any entity under its jurisdiction and
control. Each State Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to provide A/CONF.217/1
for the investigation and prosecution of individuals and other entities for offences
violating the Treaty and relevant national laws.
3. States Parties shall take all necessary measures to prevent, counter and
prosecute corruption, as well as money-laundering, within its territories or by its
nationals in the context of transfers of arms under this Treaty.
D. International cooperation
1. States Parties shall encourage and facilitate international cooperation,
including the exchange of information among themselves, on matters regarding the
implementation and application of this Treaty. The information exchange could
include, inter alia, information on implementation measures, as well as information
on specific exporters, importers and brokers and on any prosecutions brought
domestically, in line with commercial and proprietary protections.
2. States Parties shall cooperate closely with one another, consistent with their
respective domestic legal and administrative systems, to enhance the effectiveness of
law enforcement institutions in combating violations of the provisions of this Treaty.
3. States Parties shall, when appropriate, afford one another the widest measure
of mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings in
relation to the violations of the provisions of this Treaty.
E. International assistance
Provisions for strengthening capacity and building national capabilities are
essential elements for the implementation of the Treaty. In this regard:
1. In fulfilling its obligations under this Treaty, each State Party may offer or
2. States Parties may offer or receive assistance, inter alia, through the United
Nations, international, regional, subregional or national organizations or
non-governmental organizations, or on a bilateral basis.
3. States Parties in a position to do so, and where appropriate, may provide
technical, legal, material and financial assistance to States Parties in support of their
implementation of the obligations under this Treaty. Such assistance may take the
form of information exchange on best practices, and legislative and legal assistance,
related to the Treaty and its practical implementation. States Parties may build upon
existing customs and law enforcement cooperation arrangements, including those
already established by international, regional and subregional organizations.
4. Consistent with their respective legal and administrative systems, States
Parties may exchange relevant information and best practices on exports, imports
and transfers of conventional arms.
5. States Parties shall designate one or more national points of contact to
facilitate cooperation and information exchange between States Parties, and to act as
a liaison on all matters relating to the implementation of this Treaty.
6. States Parties providing and receiving assistance under the provisions of this
Article shall do so in a manner consistent with existing commitments and international A/CONF.217/1
instruments, with a view to ensuring the full and prompt implementation of agreed
7. The provisions of this Treaty shall be implemented in such a manner as to
avoid hampering the economic or technological development of States Parties.