Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

2 April 2013 - Statement to the United Nations General Assembly

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty 

Statement by HE Gary Quinlan
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations

(Check against delivery)



Mr President,

Australia is genuinely delighted to have been associated with the other co-author countries – Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom – in sponsoring the first General Assembly resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2006, and in now bringing forward this historic resolution today.

This is not just a victory for the United Nations. Much more fundamentally, it is – and must be – a victory for the millions of people around the world who are every minute affected by armed violence as a consequence of illicit trafficking in arms. It will contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability. It will save lives.

This Treaty is strong and it is balanced. As the President of the General Assembly said this morning, “it is robust and actionable”. It establishes for the first time, a solid foundation for a global system regulating the international trade in conventional arms on the basis of agreed common standards.

It will establish the highest possible regulatory, transparency and international humanitarian and human rights standards for the international trade in conventional arms. It will help prevent arms being transferred irresponsibly. It also includes ammunition, parts and components. This is very significant: with effective controls on ammunition, the large number of illicit arms already in circulation will become less of a threat. The Treaty also includes amendment provisions so that it is able to develop and be improved.

Australia's commitment to an ATT has since the beginning been driven primarily by our humanitarian concerns. We owe it to those millions – often the most vulnerable in society – whose lives have been overshadowed by the irresponsible and illicit international trade in arms.

Mr President,

I wish to pay tribute to the diplomacy and fortitude of my colleague, Ambassador Woolcott and his team, in the months leading up to and during the Final Arms Trade Treaty Conference. And also to the dedicated work of Ambassador Woolcott’s predecessor, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan of Argentina whose own contribution, as well as those of countless others, has brought us to this result.

The Treaty’s adoption today is an historic milestone. But it is, of course, only a beginning. To be effective, and to make a real difference to the lives of the millions affected by the illicit trafficking of arms this Treaty needs to be implemented. As others have said, as co-authors, our special responsibility does not end here.

Australia will advocate, with the co-authors and other partners, this Treaty’s earliest entry into force. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Carr, committed last July to provide AUD1 million to initiate a multilateral assistance fund to help less developed countries implement the Treaty. We will continue to encourage wider support for measures to help the Treaty’s effective implementation, after its entry into force.

We undertake to cooperate constructively with all members of the international community to implement a treaty that will genuinely make a difference.

Thank you, Mr President.