Congress approves Arms Trade Treaty

Brazil is one of the world’s least transparent arms producers and it was one of the first countries to sign the agreement, in 2013

After a wait of nearly five years, the ATT (Arms Trade Treaty) was finally approved for ratification by the Senate in a session held today, February 8, and it will now be submitted for the signature of the Brazilian president. Brazil is one of the world’s leading small arms producers and, in January this year alone, it exported ten times more than in the same month last year.

In 2017, Brazilian arms manufacturers sold US$475,963,947 to seventy countries. Saudi Arabia was the largest buyer of Brazilian weapons, with imports of more than US$195 million. To get a sense of the scale of the arms trade for Brazil, the country sold the equivalent of US$1,304 million per day in 2017. This is like selling nearly 4,115 handguns every day.

“The approval by the Senate is the step that was missing for Brazil to finally ratify the ATT. The State now has a commitment to transparency in its sales of arms and munitions. This means that it will have to explain, for example, the reasons that justify exporting nearly US$200 million in weapons to a country like Saudi Arabia, whose role in the civil war in Yemen is frequently associated with violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” explained Jefferson Nascimento, an advisor for the Development and Socio-Environmental Rights program.

The ATT is the main instrument for overseeing international trade in conventional weapons and it establishes rules and standards to regulate a market that is worth nearly US$80 billion per year. According to the terms of the treaty, the sale of arms must be preceded by an analysis of the risk of them being used to commit serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, such as the case of cluster munitions that are manufactured and possibly exported by Brazil.

“It’s worth noting that Brazil considers that detailed information on its arms exports should be kept confidential as a matter of national security. This argument is groundless, since transparency in this type of transaction is essential for Brazilian arms and munitions not to be used by States that are notorious rights violators,” added Nascimento.

Ninety-four States have already ratified the ATT, among them Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France – countries that are home to some of the world’s largest arms exporting industries. Another 36 countries have made a commitment to ratify the treaty by signing it, including, besides Brazil, other important players on the conventional weapons market, such as the United States and Israel.


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