PRIO Network

Progressing Towards an Arms Trade Treaty

Wallacher, Hilde & Clare da Silva, 2008. 'Progressing Towards an Arms Trade Treaty', PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

While states generally agree on the importance of human rights as a criterion within an ATT assessment process, some states have raised concerns about how risk assessment processes for human rights violations can be achieved. Risk assessment requires that states consider potential end uses or users of a transfer and evaluate possible outcomes to
determine how great a risk is associated with a given transfer. While states might voice concerns about how such a system would work in practice, criterion-based risk assessment is not unprecedented, and has been achieved in other areas of international law. Useful analogies to an ATT can be drawn from the fields of human rights, environmental and trade law.

Arguments against the necessity or desirability of an ATT are generally related to the perceived pre-maturity of the initiative, or doubts about the additional impact of an ATT given the already existing body of treaties and regulations on international arms transfers. But these mechanisms, even if applied to their full potential, do not provide the level of
predictability and harmonisation in international arms transfers that an ATT could achieve. An ATT will complement and add strength to existing arrangements and tie them to other aspects of international law, especially human rights law. Clearly this is the view of a majority of states who believe that a legally binding treaty grounded in human rights and other international law norms is both a necessary and achievable objective.

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