We, peacewomen advocates from 53 countries, call for a strong Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

We laud the fact that nations of the world are deliberating a Treaty on the arms trade. Women have paid the cost of arms proliferation for too long. We suffer the consequence for the lack of controls on today's billion-dollar trade in arms. We are particularly at risk of certain crimes because of our sex - crimes such as violence in the home, on the streets and in the battlefield.

Small arms are the weapons of choice in committing violence against women. Hence, we call for a strong and robust Treaty containing the highest possible, legally-binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons, including small arms and ammunition within its scope.

Small arms facilitate a vast spectrum of women’s rights violations, including killing, threats and intimidation, rape and other forms of sexual violence. They facilitate the assault on women in both conflict and non-conflict situations. We hardly ever fight the world's wars, but we often suffer the most – directly and indirectly.

Hence, we ask that the ATT does not authorise the transfer of arms if they will be used to perpetrate acts of armed violence, especially gender based violence including sexual violence used as a weapon and tactic of war.

International law includes women’s rights, but these are not explicit within the UN Charter or the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international law used by diplomats in the disarmament community. However, they have been recognised by UN Security Council resolutions and other binding instruments of international law and form part of international law that is relevant for the ATT.

Therefore, to protect women’s rights, the relevant binding international instruments covering gender-based violence, including rape and sexual violence, must be included in an arms trade treaty to be applied in arms transfer decisions.

It is time that women take on the role of peacebuilders and our role is recognised. Stop the victimisation of women fuelled by the irresponsible trade in small arms. Forge a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will complement the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms - now!

Please see the PDF version for a complete list of signatories, currently including 112 organisations and 90 individuals.

Policy Papers
Open letter - women call for a strong Arms Trade Treaty (183621 bytes)