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Media advisory: attempts to regulate arms trade must include strong anti-corruption measures

Transparency International is calling for the inclusion of truly robust anti-corruption mechanisms for the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

When corruption risks are not addressed in arms transfer legislation, weapons can be easily diverted to the illicit market. With a robust Arms Trade Treaty in place, this wouldn’t be the case.

This month, from July 2 to July 27, the 193 member states of the United Nations are meeting in New York to negotiate a much-anticipated legally binding “Arms Trade Treaty” to curb the irresponsible trade and transfer of arms around the world. It’s about time if one considers that the global arms trade is less regulated than the global trade in bananas.

“Discussions around the regulation of the global arms trade have rightfully focused on crucial issues such as international humanitarian law, human rights, and the diversion of weapons to illicit markets. If, however, the treaty fails to also address corruption, all of these key elements could be undermined. Corruption controls are central to a decent Arms Trade Treaty” stresses Rob Wright, Transparency International’s ATT Senior Expert.

Transparency International estimates the global cost of corruption in the defence sector to be at a minimum of USD 20 billion per year, based on data from the World Bank and SIPRI. This equates to the total sum pledged by the G8 in L’Aquila in 2009 to fight world hunger.

Transparency International believes that there is a strong case for corruption language to be included in the parameters of an Arms Trade Treaty. This would ideally take the form of a statement within the list of criteria for considering potential transfers requiring that States should have a duty to refuse transfers that involve corrupt practices to the effect that "A State Party shall not authorise a transfer [of conventional arms] if there is a substantial risk that the transfer involves corrupt practices". This needs to be backed up by a requirement in the implementation section of an ATT to the effect that implementation measures must include strong and effective mechanisms to prevent corruption in arms transfers and to prosecute those responsible.


1. Transparency International is a member of the Control Arms coalition alongside partners such as Oxfam International, Amnesty International, and many other regional and international civil society organizations. Its 90 member coalitions and organizations maintain offices in more than 125 countries. Many of these campaigners are in New York this month to encourage diplomats and ministers from around the world to negotiate a robust ATT.

3. The inclusion of strong anti-corruption provisions into a robust Arms Trade Treaty has received support from an impressive number of states from all continents and from international organisations such as ECOWAS and the EU. Strong anti-corruption mechanisms have also been backed by a group of global investors collectively representing assets over USD 1.2 trillion, an amount larger than the total volume of the global arms trade, as well as by the defence industry.

Read more about our work on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Read more about Our Work and Focus Areas.

For any press enquiries please contact

Maria Gili
T: +44 (0)20 7922 7975
E: [email protected].