Other challenges to achieving consensus on a treaty come from China and Russia, which Oxfam says are opposed to effective human rights rules, and US desires for exclusions that could undermine a successful treaty.
Oxfam also says that the UK and France, which have been supporters of a strong treaty, are coming under increased pressure from the US.
Campaigners are also concerned that countries such as Australia, France, Japan and the UK are focusing their efforts on behind-closed-doors talks with major players rather than meaningful negotiations.
Last Friday, a statement outlining the minimum humanitarian principles that must be included in the treaty, was supported by 74 states including Colombia, Malawi, Mexico, Norway and New Zealand.
But key actors including the UK, Australia, Japan and France did not sign up
"There is everything to play for this week. A strong treaty is still within our grasp but there is a real risk it could slip through our fingers at the last minute,” director of the Control Arms secretariat Jeff Abramson said.
“Now is the time for action. All states that have called for a strong Arms Trade Treaty for years in the past must now deliver on their promises."
But what actually is an ATT? And how can it help reduce violence all over the world?
Australian Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Officer Pip Ross told Our World Today an ATT was “basically a treaty that looks to put restrictions or rules around how states actually transfer weapons and ammunition”.
“At the moment there are no international regulations regarding trade of weapons and ammunition,” she said.
Ms Ross said the idea of an ATT had been around for a long time, and was initially put forward in 2003 by a group in the Nobel Peace Laureate.
“I think there is this increasing understanding of the actual impacts of arms availability,” she said.
“It’s the single most important factor in terms of what actually causes violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”
“Over 800 million small arms are in circulation globally and over 12 billion bullets are produced yearly.”
While it’s easy to think in Australia we are far away from the issues caused by the arms trade, Ms Ross says the Pacific region actually has one of the highest small arms ownership in the world, which is about double the average global rate.
“So the massive issue is when we see free availability of weapons in areas of armed conflict, it’s much more likely that violations of international humanitarian law will occur,” she said.
Ms Ross said an ATT would mean that states would be required to consider whether or not the weapons and ammunition they are going to transfer would be used to commit war crimes.
“Groups which are committing war crimes, committing violations of human rights law will find it more difficult to obtain weapons,” she said.
“It’s incredibly surprising that we don’t already have regulations on these weapons. It’s not placing a major burden on states (but) the effect on vulnerable situations has the potential to be fairly massive.”
The Red Cross is calling for a robust ATT “with real bite”, that looks at not only weapons, but ammunition.
“Us at Red Cross are really hoping that the conference comes up with a treaty that covers all types of weapons and ammunition as well as all types of transfers and also for a treaty that requires states to consider the likelihood of the weapons being used to violate international humanitarian law before they are transferred,” Ms Ross said.
Ms Ross says that the implementation of a strong ATT will always be a benefit to civilians, especially in third world countries, where a treaty will be a strong tool to introduce more protection for people in armed conflict zones.
“The point of the treaty is not to deny the right for people to engage in self-defence, nor will it deny states the ability to properly arm militaries or to arm their police force,” she said.
“It’s not about banning weapons - it’s about regulating trade and working out who the weapons are going to and whether they are going to use them for the proper purposes.”
The conference ends on Friday, July 27 in New York and the critical focus during the final days of negotiations will be on the steps governments will be required to take before deciding whether an arms transfer should go ahead or not.
A full draft treaty text is expected to be circulated soon, which will likely form the basis of any final agreement.
Image Sources: mediaglobal.org, blogs.oxfam.org and hilton-unar.org