The arms trade treaty initiative was put forward over a decade ago in an attempt to strengthen controls over the legal arms trade by establishing common universal standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons. It is envisaged that such a treaty would, amongst other things, ensure more responsible trade in arms by preventing weapons transfers to conflict zones where they might contribute to further instability and human rights abuses.
While the initiative has gained much support over the years, actual negotiations on the details and parameters of a treaty still need to take place. To assist the process, a study was concluded in 2008, which assessed the feasibility, scope and draft parameters of an ATT. Experts from five African countries, namely South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya, took part in the study.
This paper will consider these countries' perceptions and understandings of an ATT and highlight the reservations and uncertainties that have been raised. The possible reasons for these reservations will also be discussed.