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International Human Rights Law

A number of individual and collective rights are impacted by arms transfers, both during and outside of armed conflict situations.

These are protected by international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and regional instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU context.

There are several rights under these instruments that are usually placed at risk by the use of exported arms. The most prominent are the right to life and the right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There is a large degree of consensus that these would amount to serious violations of international human rights law under the ATT.

Some of the legal challenges documented on this site also consider how other human rights are placed at risk by non-transparent licensing decision-making, including the rights to freedom of information and to freedom of expression, and the rights to transparency and good administration under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.