The Situation in Nicaragua through the lens of the ATT

The situation in Nicaragua through the lens of the ATT

The Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, profoundly concerned by recent occurrences, manifests that:

The Nicaraguan government is exerting indiscriminate violence against its population. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on a working visit May 17th through 21st detected serious human rights violations as a result of the events that have been taken place since April 18th, identifying the “excessive use of force by the security forces of the State and armed third persons.”[1]

IACHR identified 76 deaths, 868 individuals wounded (the majority of injuries occurred during a protest) and 438 people detained. Among them are students, members of the civil society, human rights advocates and journalists.

The repression was directed by the National Police, its antiriot forces, and para-police groups, which acted with the support of state agents and used  different types of weapons and ammunitions.

Those who were injured by firearms showed bullet wounds in the head, eyes, neck and chest, proving that there was an intention to cause lethal damage and that some of the shots were fired by snipers.  The IACHR establishes that they are using force—potentially lethal— as a form to restore public order. IACHR also reiterates that firearms and their respective ammunitions should be excluded from protest control operations.

Given the severity of the situation facing Nicaragua, which has reached dramatic levels with the murder of 11 more young people this past May 30th during the Mother´s Day march, the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress calls on the countries that have signed and ratified the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)[2],[3] to respect both the word and the spirit of the international instrument, which has as one of its purposes:

Art. 1: “…Contributing to international and regional peace, security and stability” and “reducing human suffering.”

Due to this context, and in order to prevent the violation of the treaty, it is necessary to implement a thorough risk analysis. We refer to articles 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, which concretely reference authorized conventional weapon transfers, calling to take into consideration if they would “Contribute to or undermine peace and security” or, Commit or facilitate a serious violation of  international human rights law.”

The use of force by the Nicaraguan government should be a serious warning sign for the States that make up the ATT. We reiterate that it is the responsibility of the countries involved in the transfer processes to carry out the risk analysis and guarantee that when the transfers are authorized they do not violate the spirit of the ATT, no matter which country or countries are involved.

We make a special call to the countries that make up the region of Central America, as all of the weapons that are feeding the Nicaraguan government (and being used to attack its people) are entering by land. That is to say that they are using other countries in the region, all of whom are a part of the Treaty, as either a zone of transit or trans-shipment.

Similarly, we would like to draw the attention of those who export to Nicaragua to take into account the internal situation and carefully review export authorizations.

When considering the recent data issued by (the official repository of International Trade statistics of the United Nations[4]), in the last two years Nicaragua has imported weapons from the United States, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Brazil, China, Argentina, Italy and Mexico, among others. We make a special request to these countries to always consider their international legal obligations when making transfers of this sort in the future.

San José, Costa Rica, on this 31st of May of 2018


[2] The ATT has been signed by 130 States and has 95 Member States. It entered into force on December 24, 2014 and is currently in the implementation process.




Encuentra la versión en español aquí.


Fundación Arias