Japan Signs the Arms Trade Treaty

3 June 2013

Signing Ceremony on 3 June, 2013

After seven long years of negotiations, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 3 June, 2013. The day was full of events to mark and celebrate the historic achievement.  It was kicked off with a breakfast meeting by the high representatives of the seven ATT co-authors held at the Finnish Mission to the UN. At the meeting, the seven representatives of the co-authors that lead the ATT process (Japan, Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Kenya, and the UK) issued a joint statement, calling upon all UN members to sign, ratify, and implement the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible. They promised to continue their close engagement with other governments and civil society to ensure the Treaty’s full implementation.


The special event to mark the opening of signature then began in the newly-renovated Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament, opened the ceremony, announcing that today was a historic day for global efforts to regulate the arms trade. Ambassador Peter Wolcott of Australia, who served as President of the Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in March 2013, then took the floor and praised governments and civil society for their constructive engagement. He also recognized the Treaty’s central role in ensuring local, regional, and international peace and security.  Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the ICRC, spoke next and emphasized the provisions in the ATT that protect human rights and respect international humanitarian law. Civil society representative Anna MacDonald then described and commended the impact made by civil society in achieving an ATT.


Finally, the Arms Trade Treaty was opened for signature. An impressive total of 67 states, including Japan, signed the treaty throughout the day. Several others announced their intention to also sign the treaty soon. Japan was represented by Ambassador Mari Amano, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament who was the Head of delegation for the UN Final Conference on the ATT. During his remarks, Ambassador Amano stressed that the creation of an ATT alone is not the end objective—only by making the treaty universal and effective can international peace and security be improved. He stated that as the pen was mightier than the sword, rules on arms trade can prevent the fueling of conflicts and diplomacy can be given a better chance. (Click here for Ambassador Amano’s speech).


During the afternoon session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech, saying that the ATT gives hope to the millions who have suffered from the unchecked trade in conventional weapons. He noted that the Treaty would also make it easier for UN missions to fulfill their mandates, especially in delivering humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.


After the special event ended, the Permanent Mission of Japan, together with the Permanent Missions of Australia, New Zealand, and Norway, held a reception to celebrate the international community’s remarkable achievement.  Nearly 300 government representatives, civil society members, scholars and UN experts and industry representatives joined the event. The Secretary-General also joined the event despite his immediate trip back from Japan to attend the TICAD V (Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development).


During his brief address to the reception, Ambassador Nishida warned that the Arms Trade Treaty could become mere words on paper if the visions created by the Treaty are not fully implemented. Japan showed its strong commitment to strengthen international rules on arms trade by becoming one of the first signatories of the ATT. Japan remains resolved to building transparency and confidence among states and will engage actively with civil society and governments to this end. (For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release on Japan’s signing of the Arms Trade Treaty, click here).

Seven ATT co-authors breakfast meeting


Ambassador Amano signing the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of Japan.


Ambassador Amano speaking during the Special Event.


Secretary-General and Angela Kane, UN Disarmament High Representative, at the Special Event


Toasting the Arms Trade Treaty being opened for signature at the reception.


Ambassador Nishida, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and Australian Minister for Defense Materiel, Dr. Mike Kelly.


Ambassador Nishida giving remarks at the reception.

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