Where can I find documents related to the Arms Trade Treaty?
Last Updated: Jul 02, 2019     Views: 1030

When looking for documents and the negotiating history of a treaty or convention, it is a good idea to first check and see if the documents have already been compiled. You can find a collection of documents either through a published commentary or available on an authoritative website. The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs has a website devoted to the Arms Trade Treaty, including relevant documents, links, and background information. 

You can also trace the relevant documentary history in the documents themselves. UN resolutions and reports will often refer back to previous resolutions and reports, and other related UN Documentation.

For example, if you look at resolution 67/234 B which adopted the Arms Trade Treaty, you can see that it makes reference to:

  • previous UN Resolutions
  • the Report of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (A/CONF.217/2013/2)
  • the text of the Draft decision adopting the text of the Treaty (A/CONF.217/2013/L.3)

Another strategy is to use the UN Document symbols to find related documents. 

  • Documents from the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty follow the pattern A/CONF.217/... 
    • A/CONF.217/1 : Report of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty
    • A/CONF.217/2013/2 : Report of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty
    • A/CONF.217/2 : Compilation of views on the elements of an arms trade treaty 
       Background document prepared by the Secretariat
  • Documents from the Preparatory Committee, which was established to organize the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, follow the pattern A/CONF.217/PC/... 
    • A/CONF.217/PC/L.1 Provisional agenda : Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, 4th session, New York, 13-17 February 2012
  • Documents from the Open-Ended Working Group that worked on this issue before the conference follow the pattern A/AC.277/...
    • A/AC.277/2009/L.4/Rev.1 Draft report of the Open-ended Working Group towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms

The UN Digital Library is another resource that you can use to find UN documents related to the Treaty. Do a subject search for "Arms Trade Treaty" and narrow the results to UN Publications. By searching in the UN Digital Library you can find documents such as:

  • Secretary-General Reports  
  • Discussions in the General Assembly
  • Resolutions and Draft resolutions
  • Background documents

The Audiovisual Library of International Law is an excellent place to go for researching the negotiating history of Treaties. In the case of the Arms Trade Treaty, the historic archives include an introductory note by Peter Woolcott and related videos and photos.

To find out the status of the treaty, including the number of signatories and parties, any declarations or reservations, and entry into force information, consult the Arms Trade Treaty entry in the Status of Treaties database on the UN Treaty Collection website.

For further information, consult the Dag Hammarskjöld Library research guides on UN Documentation.


Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.


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