Reaching Critical Will’s work on arms trade

Since our origin the widespread availability of weapons has been a critical concern for WILPF. From 2006, RCW has actively been working towards a strong international ATT, with a particular focus on the inclusion of a criterion on gender-based violence (GBV). Thanks to WILPF and our partner organisations, the ATT is the first ever legally-binding regime that recognises the link between GBV and the international arms trade. Under the ATT it is illegal to transfer weapons if there is a risk that the weapons will be used to facilitate GBV (article 7(4)). In practise this means that the risk assessment and implementation of the Treaty will have to adopt a gender analysis. This will help to more accurately understand the situation in the recipient country and to ensure that all people affected are taken into consideration. It also enables more effective humanitarian protection and prevention of armed violence.

WILPF advocates that the prevention of GBV must be an aspect of conflict prevention, which cannot be achieved without disarmament, inclusion, and gender equality. We need to fight the construction and reverse the effects of dominant masculinity norms in relation to the trade, possession, and use of weapons, which constitutes a key component of conflicts and violence all over the world, especially where sexual violence persists.

We will continue to hold states accountable to the strongest possible interpretation when it comes to arms trade and human rights violations. RCW will be monitoring the implementation of the ATT, working with WILPF’s National Sections as well as within the UN framework in Geneva and New York. We must now build upon this Treaty and its historic provision on GBV and respond to the rights of those affected by GBV. And we will work hard to prevent sales of arms that would affect countless more.

For publications, research projects, facts sheets, statements, and news on the arms trade and related disarmament topics, visit RCW’s website.

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