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Corruption risks may undermine Arms Trade Treaty

Written by Tobias Bock on Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Though there are international treaties to control the sale of many goods, from dinosaur bones to postage stamps, there is no such treaty to control the trade in weapons worldwide. From July 11 to July 15, the 192 member states of the United Nations are meeting in New York to continue their negotiations towards an “Arms Trade Treaty” (ATT).


Though there are international treaties to control the sale of many goods, from dinosaur bones to postage stamps there is no such treaty to control the trade in weapons worldwide. From July 11 to July 15, the 192 member states of the United Nations are meeting in New York to continue their negotiations towards an “Arms Trade Treaty” (ATT). States intend to agree on the final version of an ATT in 2012, which means that this is the last major meeting before the final negotiation conference next year.

The purpose of an ATT is to regulate the legal global trade in arms. States have endorsed a UN resolution to negotiate a legally binding treaty with “the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms”. These standards could include regional and international security concerns, the diversion of weapons away from their intended end-users, the abuse of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, or sustainable development concerns. One of these standards must be corruption.

The arms trade is one of the most corruption prone sectors – up to GBP 20 billion each year is lost to corruption. Numerous cases demonstrate the devastating impact that defence corruption has on sustainable development public trust in the government and its armed forces, as well as the ability of nations to pay a fair and uninflated price for the weapons.

This is why Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme emphasises that a Arms Trade Treaty must have strong anti-corruption mechanisms if it is to be robust and effective. Even if States were to agree an ATT at the final negotiating conference in 2012 which introduces stronger controls without strong anti-corruption mechanisms these controls are likely to be undermined by and circumvented through corruption.

Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme is in New York this week working with its large number of partners in civil society such as Oxfam, Saferworld the Arias Foundation, and Amnesty International to constructively work with States to ensure that the corruption measures proposed in the draft are strengthened and not deleted at this last preparatory stage.


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Read 4279 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47

Tobias Bock

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