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In April 2013, the United Nations General Assembly approved an arms trade treaty, the first ever treaty to regulate global trade in conventional arms.

Opening of the Final Conference on The Arms Trade Treaty.
The international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), adopted in New York, applies to small arms, ammunition, helicopters, missiles and armoured vehicles, as well as their parts and components. Finland was one of the countries that introduced a draft resolution, the others being Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom. Finland was also among the 108 co-sponsors who voted in favour of the treaty. Patria formed part of the Finnish delegation as an industry representative.

“The objective of the ATT is to increase transparency in the industry, and to establish common international standards for the export, import and transfers of arms, as well for the criteria for issuing licences to sell arms. Before a deal is concluded, the treaty obliges the selling party to ensure that the arms to be sold will not be used for human rights violations, war crimes or terrorism. A further aim is to reduce the illegal arms trade, which is a particular problem in the world's crisis areas. For example, in developing countries, illegal arms trade can halt the development of an entire area. For Finland, the international humanitarian law and human rights issues have been an important part of the negotiations,” says Heikki Allonen, Chairman of the Association of Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries AFDA and President and CEO of Patria Group.

How the negotiations proceeded

"Tämä on voitto ihmiskunnalle", sanoi YK:n pääsihteeri Ban Ki-moon kansainvälisen asekauppasopimuksen syntymisen jälkeen.

"This is a victory for the world's people," declared UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the vote.

The Arms Trade Treaty was first put on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in 2006. July 2012, nations of the world came together to negotiate the rules for the global arms trade. The results created a firm basis for the adopted treaty. In the negotiations in the summer, 90 states signed a draft treaty. The final treaty was about to be adopted at a conference held in late March 2013, but Iran, Syria and North Korea opposed it. The ATT nevertheless came into being a few days later by democratic vote, and the countries under international sanctions were no longer able to influence the result. The votes were divided as follows: 154 countries voted in favour, three were against and 23 abstained.

"It is a historical diplomatic achievement – the culmination of long-held dreams and many years of effort. This is a victory for the world's people," declared UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the vote.

The treaty will bring changes to the arms trade in countries where control has been weak until now. In Finland and other EU Member States, for example, the treaty will not require major action, since the system has worked fairly well so far. The criteria used apply to areas such as the internal situation in the country represented by the purchaser, human rights issues and adherence to laws. The intention is to supervise compliance with the new treaty by means of reporting obligations and national export control systems. The ATT will be opened for signature in June, and will be effective once 50 countries have ratified it.

 

This article was published in the Patria magazine in June 2013