Victim assistance in the arms trade treaty- Prep Com July 2011

Posted on June 30, 2011


Putting People First: Victim Assistance in the Arms Trade Treaty

By Nerina Cevra,  Coordinator, Victim Assistance & Survivor Rights- Action on Armed Violence.

Action on Armed Violence

Irresponsible arms transfers fuel poverty, destabilise regions and prolong conflict and armed violence.  In 2006, 153 governments voted overwhelmingly at the United Nations to develop an Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade. In 2009 those governments pledged to complete negotiations for such a treaty by 2012.

The next session of the Preparatory Committee takes place in July 2011.

All states should support the humanitarian aims of the ATT and speak in favor of strong provisions on assistance to victims in the upcoming meeting.

The right of states to trade arms is balanced by their acceptance of a responsibility “to protect and safeguard [their] people and institutions, consistent with international legal obligations, humanitarian and human rights principles.”[1]

These responsibilities also include the responsibility to assist victims of these weapons through rehabilitation, reintegration and full enjoyment of their human rights. Assistance to victims in the Arms Trade Treaty does not imply new legal obligations; it provides an opportunity for states to confirm their existing commitments under international law. Assistance can be provided through a range of modalities, consistent with states’ own existing policies.

The Arms Trade Treaty must recognize the rights of victims and survivors of armed violence because:

  • It is essential if the treaty is to be true to its humanitarian goals and nature;
  • Without recognition of the rights of victims and provisions for victim assistance, the treaty would fall behind the existing norm of international humanitarian law – that weapons regulations must recognize the rights and include commitment by states to assist victims in recovery and toward inclusion; [2]

Growing numbers of states have recognized the need for victim assistance in the Arm Trade Treaty, and have shown their commitment to this issue by speaking in favor of victim assistance at the Preparatory Committee in February 2011. [3]

For more information, please contact:

Nerina Čevra at:  ncevra (-at-) aoav.org.uk


[1] UN. Secretary General. Promoting development through the reduction and prevention of armed violence: Report of the Secretary-General. (A/64/228). 5 August 2009.

[2] Including AP Mine Ban Convention, Convention on Cluster Munitions and Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

[3] Including Norway, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Nigeria and others.

Nerina Cevra. Action on Armed Violence. Coordinator, Victim Assistance & amp; Survivor Rights