The Goals the U.S. Should Pursue at the 2016 Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty

From August 22 to 26, the second Conference of States Parties (CSP2) to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will be held in Geneva. The United States is a signatory of the ATT, in force since December 2014—but as the Obama Administration has not transmitted this treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent, the U.S. is not party to the ATT, which purportedly seeks to regulate the international trade in many conventional weapons. As an observer nation, the U.S. will have an important voice, though no vote, in Geneva.

At CSP2, the U.S. should discourage attempts to expand the treaty’s scope, and emphasize that states parties to the treaty should focus on fulfilling the obligations they have already accepted before inventing new duties or collecting additional ratifications. The U.S. should also continue its efforts to clarify the treaty’s reporting obligations, and to ensure that treaty meetings are open to all relevant non-government organizations and industry groups.

Finally, the U.S. should flatly refuse to make any contributions to any voluntary funds established by the treaty or to the treaty secretariat, and should ensure that the secretariat and any other treaty institutions have a strictly limited scope and budget.

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