The historic Arms Trade Treaty goes into effect

8 April 2015, 14:40 UTC | New Zealand
Amnesty International NZ staff thank supporters worldwide for their support of the Arms Trade Treaty © Amnesty International

The global Arms Trade Treaty entered into force on 24 December 2014, marking a breakthrough for human rights. For the first time in history, there is a treaty that will explicitly block the flow of arms to governments that will use them to commit atrocities.

“This achievement is a truly historic breakthrough. It shows what is possible when human rights campaigners dig in for the long haul and work relentlessly to turn a good idea into a lifesaving reality around the world.”

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

At least half a million people die every year as a result of the poorly regulated trade in weapons and munitions. Millions more are injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes. The arms trade is shrouded in secrecy, but the recorded value of international transfers is approaching US$100 billion annually.

In the early 1990s, Amnesty International activists were among a small group of people who first proposed regulating the irresponsible international arms trade. Some mocked the idea, but we stood firm. Two decades on, the treaty is a legally binding reality: a testament to your hard work, creativity and sheer determination. The Arms Trade Treaty has the power to save millions of lives, and it would not have been possible without you.

But our work doesn’t stop here, and we will not rest on our laurels. While the treaty sets ground rules for the global arms trade, it will not fix the issue overnight. People around the world have suffered enough and governments owe it to them to back up their commitment with action. We need to apply even more pressure to ensure states strictly adhere to the treaty’s principles.

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