UN adopts global arms sales treaty
Published 02/04/2013 | 17:12
The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved its first treaty regulating the multi billion-pound international arms trade.
The resolution adopting the landmark treaty was approved by a vote of 154 to 3 with 23 abstentions.
The 193-member world body voted after Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked its adoption by consensus at a negotiating conference last Thursday. The three countries voted "no" on the resolution.
The vote capped a more than decade-long campaign by activists and some governments to regulate the global arms trade and try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organized crime.
It will not control the domestic use of weapons in any country, but it will require countries to establish national regulations to control arms transfers. It covers battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.
For more than a decade, activists and some governments have been pushing for international rules to regulating the arms trade.
Hopes of reaching agreement at a UN negotiating conference were dashed in July when the US said it needed more time to consider the proposed accord - a move quickly backed by Russia and China. In December, the UN General Assembly decided to hold a final negotiating conference to agree on a treaty and set last Thursday as the deadline.
After two weeks of intensive negotiations, there was growing optimism as the deadline approached that all 193 member states would approve the final draft treaty by consensus - a requirement set by the United States. This time, the US was prepared to support the final draft treaty. But Iran, North Korea and Syria objected.
Iran said the treaty had many "loopholes," is "hugely susceptible to politicisation and discrimination," and ignores the "legitimate demand" to prohibit the transfer of arms to those who commit aggression. Syria cited seven objections, including the treaty's failure to include an embargo on delivering weapons "to terrorist armed groups and to non-state actors." And North Korea said the treaty favours arms exporters who can restrict arms to importers that have a right to legitimate self-defence and the arms trade.
Both Iran and North Korea are under U.N. arms embargoes over their nuclear programmes, while Syria is in the third year of a conflict that has escalated to civil war and is under U.S. and European Union sanctions. Amnesty International said all three countries "have abysmal human rights records - having even used arms against their own citizens."