Skip to main content

Anti-corruption and the UN Arms Trade Treaty:

“The UN Member States have just five days left to get this right”

Transparency International is calling for the inclusion of truly robust anti-corruption mechanisms for the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Although more than 60 UN Member States are supporting this in the negotiations currently taking place in New York, the new treaty texts make no reference to corruption.

When corruption risks are not addressed in arms transfer legislation, weapons can be easily diverted to the illicit market. Corruption in the arms trade also inflates the cost and/or reduces the quality of the weapons which nations acquire to defend themselves. A robust Arms Trade Treaty would avoid such issues.

“The UN member states have just five days left to get this right. If they don’t address corruption, they will be leaving a door wide open for the widespread and wholesale undermining of everything else they are trying to achieve”, stresses Rob Wright, Transparency International’s Senior ATT Advisor.

Diplomats are meeting in New York this week to negotiate the final details of this treaty, which has been described by the UN as “the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations”. Although more than a third of UN Member States (as well as international organisations such as ECOWAS, CARICOM, and the EU – see note below) are in favour of the inclusion of strong anti-corruption measures in the ATT, robust provisions to this end are being actively argued against by a smaller number of states that appear to have no interest in a strong and effective control of the arms trade.

It is estimated that corruption in the international arms trade amounts to more than USD 20 billion a year, which is equivalent to the total sum pledged by the G8 in L’Aquila in 2009 to fight world hunger. This is a waste of scarce resources and reduces public trust in the government, its armed forces, and its internal security and police forces.

For more information about Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme, please visit

Notes to editors

1. Media contact: Transparency International representatives will be in New York for the negotiations for this Arms Trade Treaty for the whole of July. For further information, to request an interview or briefing or to find out more about the negotiations taking place throughout July please contact: Maria Gili, +44 (0)20 7922 7975; [email protected].

2. 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 ATT has received support from Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, DRC, France, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Holy See, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Liberia , Luxemburg, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Netherlands, Palau, Philippines, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Zambia; CARICOM (on behalf of its 15 member states: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname; and Trinidad & Tobago); ECOWAS (on behalf of its 15 member states: Benin; Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo); and the European Union (on behalf of its 27 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). 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.

For any press enquiries please contact

Maria Gili, Communications Officer
Transparency International Defence and Security Programme
T:+44 (0)20 7922 7975
E: [email protected]