Belgium joins UN Arms Trade Treaty

date: 03 June 2014

On 3 June Belgium has ratified the Arms Trade Treaty at the UN headquarters in New York. A year after opening for signature the Treaty has 40 signatories. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after the date of the 50th ratification.

The Treaty defines criteria for international arms transactions. The main criterion is respect for international human rights and humanitarian law. Export of arms will be forbidden if there is substantial risk they are to be used in acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The Treaty also takes the risk of violent crimes against women and children into account. Furthermore, it includes provisions to prevent weapons from reaching the black market.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders emphasizes that this Treaty is a big step forward in the regulation of the international arms trade and the fight against the illegal arms trade. It is in keeping with the commitment of our country to a peaceful and safe world, using strong multilateral collaboration and international law. Not two weeks ago our country suffered a terrible crime with illegal war weapons, strengthening the Minister’s conviction that the arms trade needs to be better regulated and controlled.

Didier Reynders points out that Belgium is already bound by the European Union Code of Conduct. In some cases, these rules are more stringent than the Treaty’s. He calls on the states that as of yet have not signed or ratified the Treaty to do so as soon as possible.