What is ATWG?
The Arms Transfer Working Group (ATWG) is an alliance of primarily Washington, D.C. - based arms control, development, economic conversion, human rights and religious organizations concerned about the spread of conventional weaponry around the world. ATWG serves as a clearinghouse of information and a point of contact for strategizing and coordinating activities among diverse groups that are motivated by the same moral concerns, including the economic, humanitarian and security implications of arms trafficking.
Why is ATWG important?
Politically and socially conscious groups formed ATWG in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War as a response to revelations that the United States and its allies were responsible for having provided weapons to the Iraqi regime prior to the war. More than ten years later, the United States continues to repeat past mistakes. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has intensified military relations with regimes of dubious legitimacy and with poor human rights records. Consequently, ATWG's efforts to influence policy remain critical.
How does ATWG work?
The forum affects U.S. arms export policy through Congress and the executive branch. ATWG's grass roots work focuses on outreach, education, and activitation. One of ATWG's goals is to advocate for a U.S. Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers and a Framework Convention on International Arms Transfers. These initiatives would curtail U.S. arms exports and military assistance to dictators and human rights abusers. Other ATWG efforts include eliminating the scourge of small arms and light weapons and taking action on regional arms trade issues. The group also mobilizes in response to specific weapons sales or proposed changes in arms export policy.