Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2014
The legality of any given weapon is typically determined by reference to at least three criteria: its inherent characteristics (for example, in accordance with international humanitarian law, whether it is a weapon of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering against combatants, or is inherently indiscriminate); its typical impact (for example, where in most cases civilians caught up in armed conflcit are disproportionately affected when compared with military utility, or when it tends to be used for torture); and, lastly, the actors who use it. These criteria all play a role in the regulation of arms transfer. This chapter assesses the mechanisms and criteria that have been elaborated - including the United Nations Arms Transfer Treaty, which was adopted on 2 April 2013 - to reduce the impact on individuals, groups, and societies. Since the 1990s a number of regional and international instruments have sought to regulate arms transfers. The normative weight of these instruments differs, some being international or regional treaties, others being phrased in soft law terms. To date, none has asserted global control over the transfer of all conventional weapons. This, therefore, was the intent behind the elaboration of a global Arms Trade Treaty within United Nations auspices.