The war on wars: legal experts strengthen the UN Arms Trade Treaty

After years of campaigning by organisations around the world, UN negotiations are underway for an international Arms Trade TreatyA treaty is a formal agreement made between two or more countries or international organisations. , due to be finalised in 2012. 

A4ID is delighted to be able to support the creation of this important treaty.

At the request of our development partner, Oxfam, we have placed a number of lawyers with the Arms Trade Treaty Legal Support Network.

Oxfam GB is keen that more lawyers join the network, especially those with significant expertise in one or more of the following areas:

- Public international law

- Negotiating, drafting and interpreting international treaties

- Monitoring, implementation and enforcement of international treaties

- National and multilateral export controls

- Human rights law

- International humanitarian law

The network consists of expert lawyers offering free, immediate legal advice during negotiating sessions and our lawyers have already been called upon to offer crucial support that will help ensure the treaty is as robust as it can be.

Gene Sullivan, Coordinator of the Legal Response Network, said, “During the PrepCom in July lawyers referred to us by A4ID were among the most active in our network. In that week alone we responded to 14 requests for assistance from governments and NGOs."

According to the civil society alliance, Control Arms, more than 2,000 people are killed by arms every day and around eight million light weapons are produced every year, although this trade remains largely unregulated as there are no legally binding international rules governing it.

It is hoped that the new treaty will work to prevent the damaging effects that the uncontrolled trade in conventional arms has on development: fuelling conflict, causing death and disability, contributing to human rights abuses, and preventing the rule of law.

Yet, given the lucrative nature of arms trading, there are likely to be those who will seek to side-step and exploit the Treaty. For this reason it is important that the Treaty is thorough, clear, and strict: even the smallest loophole or imprecision could undermine the whole project. This is why the Arms Trade Treaty Legal Support Network and the work of our lawyers is so important.  

If you are interested in being a part of the Arms Trade Treaty Legal Support Network please email Nadia Hardman, providing your CV, country of residence and areas of experience

To find out more about the Control Arms campaign please visit