The International Code of Conduct
Arms Transfers

A Joint Statement for Peace and Human Progress

We come from different nations with varied histories, and in the past, the world has honored each of our struggles for peace and justice with the Nobel Prize for Peace. Today, we speak as one to voice our common concern regarding the destructive effects of the unregulated arms trade. Together, we have written an International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers, which, once adopted by all arms-selling nations, will benefit all humanity, nationalities, ethnicities, and religions.

This International Code of Conduct would govern all arms transfers, including conventional weapons and munitions, military and security training, and sensitive military and dual-use technologies. The Code stipulates that any country wishing to purchase arms must meet certain criteria, including the promotion of democracy, the protection of human rights, and transparency in military spending. It would also prohibit arms sales to nations that support terrorism and to states that are engaged in aggression against other nations or peoples.

The international community can no longer ignore the repercussions of irresponsible arms transfers. Indiscriminate weapons sales foster political instability and human rights violations, prolong violent conflicts, and weaken diplomatic efforts to resolve differences peacefully. Arms transfers often take place under a cloud of secrecy, and generally respond to the desires of a few while ignoring the needs and rights of the many. Sadly, many governments continue to divert scarce resources toward arms purchases while their people live in abject poverty.

Millions of civilians have been killed in conflict this century, and many more have lost their loved ones, their homes, their spirit. In a world where 1.3 billion people earn less than 1 dollar a day, the sale of weapons simply perpetuates poverty. Our children urgently need schools and health centers, not machine guns and fighter planes. Our children also need to be protected from violence. The dictators of this world, not the poor, clamor for arms.

Once in effect, this International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers would prevent undemocratic governments from building sophisticated arsenals. Governments which systematically abuse internationally recognized human rights through practices such as torture or arbitrary executions would not receive military training. Countries who commit genocide would not be able to buy munitions. Governments engaged in armed aggression against other countries or peoples could not buy missiles. States that support terrorism would be prevented from acquiring weapons. In addition, all nations would be required to report their arms purchases to the United Nations. This Code of Conduct would undeniably promote global peace and security, and protect human rights.

We call on all nations to endorse this International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers. The citizens of the world must demand that leaders support this Code as well as similar efforts on the national and regional level. Only through solidarity, compassion, and courageous leadership can we make violence and its vestiges a distant memory of the past.

New York City, 29 May, 1997

For more information on the International Code of Conduct,
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