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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Arms Trade Treaty

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 25, 2013


  • The Arms Trade Treaty will establish a common international standard for the national regulation of the international trade in conventional arms. The Treaty can help improve both U.S. national security and global security by reducing the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
  • In particular, countries that are party to the Treaty are required to establish national export and import controls for tanks, combat vehicles and aircraft, warships, missile and artillery systems, small arms and light weapons.
  • This will require States Parties to establish export and import control systems closer to the high standard the United States already sets with its own national system. Joining the Arms Trade Treaty would not result in any additional U.S. export or import controls.

  • The text of the Arms Trade Treaty recognizes the legitimate political, security, economic, and commercial purposes of the international trade in conventional arms, as well as the legitimate trade and lawful ownership and use of certain arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities.
  • The Treaty also reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate conventional arms within its own territory according to its own legal or constitutional system. Nothing in the Arms Trade Treaty is inconsistent with the rights of U.S. citizens, including those protected by the Second Amendment.
  • The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Arms Trade Treaty on April 2, 2013, by an overwhelming margin of 154 to 3, with 23 abstentions. The Treaty was supported by the vast majority of U.S. allies and partners. Only Iran, Syria, and North Korea voted against the Treaty.
  • The Treaty opened for signature on June 3, 2013, and on September 25, the United States became the 91st state to sign the Treaty. To date, 4 states have ratified it. The Arms Trade Treaty will enter into force following ratification by 50 states.

PRN: 2013/1180

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