The music lover’s guide to the Arms Trade Treaty

July 10 2012, 1:42 AM  by Rachel George

Lengthy UN negotiations can go on into the early hours so a good playlist comes in handy during breaks – for diplomats and campaigners alike. To help out, we decided to kickstart the ultimate Arms Trade Treaty Summer Playlist on Spotify. Tune in, rock out and learn a little more about the Arms Trade Treaty all in one go!


Tweet your #ATTplaylist song choices then sign in to Spotify to add to the list! 

TRACK 1 – A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Presley

As the first week of negotiations got off to a slow start, the UN delegates could take some advice from the King. Rather than talking in circles about procedural matters, delegates need “a little less conversation, and a little more action”. They need to get to work and deliver a treaty with humanitarian principles, human rights and development at the heart. This is the kind of treaty that will help change peoples lives for the better.

TRACK 2 – Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

For millions around the world, the Arms Trade Treaty is more than words on paper. Nearly 750,000 people die every year as a result of armed violence. That’s more than one person every minute. For millions in every corner of the globe, from Bangkok to Berlin and New York to New Delhi, “Somebody that I used to know” isn’t simply a lyric. It’s an actual person, maybe a family member or a friend, who was a victim of armed violence. An ATT with humanitarian principles can play a key role in reducing armed violence by keeping guns out of the hands of human rights abusers, dictators, and terrorists.

TRACK 3 – Grenade by Bruno Mars

When Bruno Mars wrote “Grenade,” we don’t think he was talking about the ATT. He could have been though, because grenades are deadly weapons we must ensure are covered in the treaty’s scope. We can’t rely on Bruno to “catch a grenade for you”, rather the countries of the world have to deliver an ATT without loopholes that will “catch” not only grenades but also Small Arms and Light Weapons, ammunition, tanks, and all other conventional weapons!

TRACK 4 – Respect by Aretha Franklin

The criteria section of the Arms Trade Treaty lays out the conditions that would result in a blocked arms transfers. When it comes to the ATT’s criteria, Aretha Franklin would have one word… or more appropriately, 7 letters: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. As in respect for human rights, humanitarian law, and economic development. If a Treaty leaves out any of these, it simply doesn’t pass the Aretha test. R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to an ATT…

TRACK 5 – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson

If the delegates at the United Nations have been following our musical advice so far we are on the right track. However, it’s crucial they take Michael Jackson’s, too, and “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”. Even with a comprehensive scope and strong criteria, an effective treaty needs robust implementation mechanisms. This means making the treaty enforceable and transparent by holding States to the words of the treaty and making sure they publicly report on their weapons transfers.

TRACK 6 – Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

We have come a long way. 15 years ago people laughed at the Nobel Laureates that first suggested we needed global rules for the arms trade. Today we are 2 weeks into a 4 week final negotiating conference with all 193 countries assembled in one room to hash this out. We would not have come here without the belief and hard work of millions of campaigners and survivors around the world. Now is the time to stand together and fight for a treaty that will save lives.


Help us build the ATT Playlist. Share your song suggestion and reasons for including it on twitter using the hashtag #ATTPlaylist, or simply add it to the playlist! Rock on!