New Zealand will lead the way as one of the first countries to sign the landmark Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the United Nations, which opens for signature in New York today.

The move has been applauded by international aid agency Oxfam, which says the treaty is the first of its kind providing legally-binding global rules to regulate the international flow of weapons, preventing them from escalating conflict and fuelling atrocities.

Oxfam has campaigned for a decade to achieve robust rules on international arms transfers.

Oxfam New Zealand executive director Barry Coates said the country's "commitment to achieving a powerful and effective" Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was to be commended.


"We particularly welcome the strong position New Zealand has taken regarding the scope and implementation of the treaty, as well as the support provided to Pacific states throughout the process," Mr Coates said.

"For many regions affected by armed violence, including the Pacific, this treaty represents a major step forward in securing a safer future.

"We are now looking forward to the opening of signature at the UN in New York today. As we enter the next critical phase for the ATT, New Zealand is in a unique position to lead by example on the international stage and set a precedent for future signatories whilst providing further support to Pacific states to enable them to sign and ratify the treaty as soon as possible."