Today marks an important moment in history. The culmination of many years of hard work across the world, comes to fruition with the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This Treaty sets common international standards for arms export controls, and puts international law and human rights at the heart of the global arms trade. The ATT has the real potential to reduce human suffering, and increase security across the globe.
The United Kingdom has led efforts to secure the ATT from the start. In 2006, we were one of seven states to co-author the original UN Resolution calling for the creation of the Treaty, following years of hard work by civil society, to promote action to improve global controls on the trade and movement of arms. In the eight intervening years, we have continued to play a central role supporting the negotiation of the Treaty. The United Kingdom has signed, ratified, and has been applying the standards of the ATT since April this year. We regularly encourage other states to join us in this commitment.
We remain committed because the ATT matters. Today, the ATT becomes legally binding on those who have ratified it. That is a huge milestone. This is the first legally binding instrument to regulate the trade in conventional arms. Conventional weapons kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. If all states follow the principles in the ATT, we can drastically reduce these deaths.
It is important that this Treaty makes a lasting difference. We encourage all states to sign up to the Treaty. The ATT will grow stronger with every state that becomes a part of it and we want it to be truly universal. Of course, the ATT will only work if states do what they sign up to do. The United Kingdom already operates one of the world’s most robust, rigorous and transparent export licensing systems. We can and will share information, best practice and assistance with other states, which do not as yet have such extensive controls.
For now, though, let me end by celebrating where we are today. We are now one step closer to enshrining human rights principles into the global arms trade: one step closer, perhaps, to reflecting the ethos of the season.