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Ireland among first States to sign landmark UN arms treaty

Disarmament, Press Releases, Ireland, 2013

Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, today signed  the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of Ireland at the United Nations in New York.

The Minister described the Treaty as ‘’historic’’ and “a milestone in global arms control”, and pledged Ireland’s support for its implementation. The Arms Trade Treaty is the first legally binding instrument to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. It was agreed in April after over six years of discussions and negotiations. States that sign up to the Treaty are prohibited from exporting arms to countries if they know those weapons will be used to commit gross violations of human rights.

Ireland was a strong supporter of efforts to achieve an Arms Trade Treaty from the beginning.

Speaking at the UN, Minister Costello described the Treaty as a “strong, robust and comprehensive instrument” that “will reduce human suffering and save lives” when fully implemented.  The Minister paid tribute to the important role played by civil society in supporting and developing the Treaty, which he described as “a triumph for NGO activists and the indispensable role which they play” as well as an achievement by States.

Ireland was among the first States to sign the Treaty, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013.  The adoption and signing of the Treaty follows several years of intensive talks and negotiations at the UN.

Welcoming Ireland’s signature of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., said: ‘Ireland is proud to be among the first States to sign the Arms Trade Treaty. This Treaty is an example of how the UN can make a real contribution to international peace and security. Governments and civil society worked closely together to secure strong provisions on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. I urge all States to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty without delay so that it can enter into force and start saving lives.’
The Government has consistently advocated a robust Arms Trade Treaty with strong human rights provisions. The new Treaty prohibits a State from authorising arms exports where it has knowledge that the weapons will be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 or other war crimes. It will also oblige States to minimise the risk that weapons would be diverted into the wrong hands or to the illicit market, and to adhere to robust, comprehensive and legally-binding standards.

The ATT will enter into force when 50 States have signed and ratified it. The Government will move to ratify the Treaty within the next six months.