Global Norms on Arms: The Significance of the Arms Trade Treaty for Global Security in World Politics

After a complex negotiation involving security, trade, human rights law (HRL), international humanitarian law (IHL) and general principles of international relations, on 2 April 2013, 154 states, including the US, voted to adopt the first-ever comprehensive, legally binding international treaty governing the transfer of arms: the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) came to life. This survey article explores the meaning of the ATT for a key global challenge, controlling the global arms trade and its implications for global security and the legal order. At the time of writing, September 2014, the ATT is almost about to enter into force as almost 50 states ratified it, including some of the largest arms producers and some of the rising arms producers and importers. This signals the embrace of the treaty's momentum in changing long-established practices of an ungoverned arms trade. The ATT was the result of a long journey and the persistent efforts of committed individuals to fill a much-needed gap in the international system. The treaty will be a contribution to strengthening human security worldwide if well implemented and helped by the continuous efforts of an engaged civil society.