Costello signs 'historic' treaty to curb €53bn arms trade
JUNIOR Minister Joe Costello has insisted that the first international treaty to clamp down on the €53bn global arms trade will "save lives".
The Arms Trade Treaty will make it more difficult for illicit arms, such as tanks, attack helicopters, missile launchers and small arms, to be supplied to countries with records of human rights abuses.
And it will also have implications for Irish companies – which last year exported €1.75bn worth of 'dual-use' technology with capabilities for use by the military and defence industry.
Mr Costello, who travelled to the UN headquarters in New York to sign the treaty, described it as a milestone in global arms control.
"If effectively implemented, the treaty will reduce human suffering and save lives. No treaty could serve a higher purpose," said the Labour TD for Dublin Central.
The treaty bans all states that sign up to it from exporting arms to countries where war crimes and human rights abuses are being committed. And 'dual-use technology' cannot be exported to a country if it could be used to commit human rights abuses.
The need for such a treaty was highlighted by the conviction of the world's most notorious arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in jail in the US last year.
He sold weapons to some of the most ruthless groups involved in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. His life was depicted in the Hollywood movie 'Lord of War' starting Nicholas Cage.
The treaty needs to be signed and ratified by 50 states for it to come into force. The world's top arms exporters including Britain, Germany and France, are expected to sign alongside emerging exporters such as Brazil and Mexico. The US is expected to sign later this year.
The signing of the treaty was welcomed by Amnesty International Ireland, which has campaigned for tough regulations on the international arms trade.
"(It) can stem the flow of conventional arms and munitions that fuel war crimes and human rights abuses," its executive director Colm O'Gorman said.