What is an Arms Trade Treaty?

The arms trade treaty is the agreement between nations that restricts them from exporting weapons to other countries. Such weapons are conventional and can be used against humanity. The arms trade treaty enforcement was implemented on 4th December 2014.

Further, it was adopted by the UN General Assembly last year in April. Till December 23, the 60 nations gave their formal consent for the treaty, and the other 130 nations had signed it. 23 nations had abstained from arms trade treaty ratification last year, saying it was a “weak on terrorism and non-state actors” resolution. It is the first legally binding document to prevent the transfer of weapons to terrorists.

Aspirants can cover the topics mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus by following the below-mentioned links:

Overview of Article

The UN arms trade treaty came into existence less than two years after being adopted by the general assembly said by the UN secretary-general. The arms trade treaty is not signed by major weapon-producing countries like Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. Countries like Britain, France, and Germany had signed and ratified it.

These countries are the top arms exporters. The US had signed the treaty in September 2013. The main feature of the arms trade treaty is to bring accountability, responsibility, and transparency in the global arms trade. The main aim of the treaty is to reduce the suffering of humans caused by illegal transfers of arms, improve regional security, and promote transparency and accountability between nations.

India has a dedicated ministry to handle foreign affairs and shares diplomatic relations with various countries across the globe. Candidates can read about India’s Bilateral Relations at the linked article.

Relevance in UPSC Prelims/Mains

The arms trade treaty is an important topic for UPSC prelims. It is a part of current affairs. So it is essential to stay updated with the treaties around the world. While preparing for the prelims, study about key features of the treaty, the significance of the treaty, implications of withdrawal by the US, etc.

The UN arms trade treaty is a bilateral, regional, and global grouping and agreement involving India, affecting India’s interests. The current affairs quiz can help you prepare for UPSC 2022.

Arms Trade Treaty – Context with India

The arms trade treaty India had not been accepted just because its real impact is on the illicit trafficking which was in conventional arms. These imported weapons are mostly used by terrorists and other unlawful & unauthorized non-state actors in India. India knows that the arms trade treaty also ensures an obligation between importing and exporting states. In the arms trade treaty, India is weak on terrorism and non-state actors.

So, importing weapons to India can be harmful. The arms trade treaty is used as an instrument to take action against an unexpected event such as war, crime, etc., between exporting and importing states which prevent such events without consequences. The arms trade treaty ratification is not given by India.

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UN-ATT – Current Issue

The major issue the world is suffering while protecting arms is that some governments spend more on military expenditure than other developments such as education, healthcare, etc. According to the changing circumstances, the nations also needed to spend some part of their income on arms trade treaty, which is helpful in protecting the nation from civil wars, unexpected natural calamities, etc.

What is the importance of the arms trade treaty according to civil exams?

The arms trade treaty is also an important topic of the UPSC exam in the prelims and mains section. The ias exam also contains topics related to the arms trade treaties. The questions are based on new amendments, current issues, new negotiable laws, etc.

Students need to study the brief topic of the arms trade treaty. Objective questions can come from topics like enforcement, adoption, and the countries involved. The mains consist of topics related to new regulations, matters of an arms trade treaty, government laws, etc.


The arms trade treaty enforcement is an interpretive study. It contains many important elements and novels. It controls the unregulated import, export, and transit of conventional weapons. The UN state members and civil society organizations have taken the combined decisions to create common international trade standards. Some countries flagged it as a victory as it is a powerful new tool, and others flagged it as a failure. While taking on the presented criticism, this study performs a critical role in the analysis of the operational heart of the treaty and regarding prohibitions, scope, and export of arms.


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