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Disarming the Lords of War

A New International Treaty to Regulate the Arms Trade

A woman and child try to avoid shelling on the opposite side of the building, 2007. Control Arms / Flickr

To understand how poorly the global arms trade is regulated, consider this: For a $70 billion industry that produces seven to eight million firearms annually, it loses one million weapons every year to arms traders like the notorious Viktor Bout (a.k.a. the Merchant of Death) who sold weapons to warlords and terrorists from the 1990s until his capture in 2008. Since then, the international community has sought to build a treaty to control the trade of conventional arms.

The United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which comes into force on Christmas Eve this year, will deal a major blow to illegal arms dealers that supply the weapons for a large portion of the world’s conflicts. Its principle is straightforward: prohibit the sale of weapons to individuals, groups, or countries that commit genocide, break human rights and international humanitarian laws, or abet terrorists. The treaty will plug holes in the

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