U.N. Treaty Will Set Controls over Global Arms Trade

A new treaty, which has the support of 154 U.N. member states, will help reduce the risk that the trade in conventional weapons will lead to genocide or other atrocities.
A new treaty, which has the support of 154 U.N. member states, will help reduce the risk that the trade in conventional weapons will lead to genocide or other atrocities.

By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
April 2, 2013

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the first global arms trade treaty aimed at addressing the adverse effects of international arms sales on global peace and stability.

Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the treaty, which he described as “a strong, effective and implementable Arms Trade Treaty that can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade.”

In an April 2 statement, Kerry said the treaty will establish a global standard to regulate the $70 billion per year conventional arms trade.

“It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Kerry said.

According to press reports, the treaty passed with 154 votes in favor and 23 abstentions. Only Iran, Syria and North Korea voted against it.

The treaty prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons in violation of arms embargoes. It also requires them to develop control systems and review sales contracts to help prevent those exports from being sold on the black market or used for human rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime.

Countries that ratify the treaty will be required to issue an annual public report on their export of conventional weapons, according to press reports.

The measure will reportedly cover exports of tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber weapons, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and launchers, small arms and light weapons.

Countries will be able to ratify the treaty beginning in June, and it will go into effect 90 days after 50 nations have joined, according to press reports.

Speaking to reporters March 28, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman said that although he does not expect the treaty to immediately reduce violence, its requirements will make a difference.

“I think over time as more states take action not only to have more effective controls on their own legal exports but also, as this treaty calls for, take more effective action against black market arms brokers and cooperate against the diversion of weapons, I think it will contribute to a reduction of violence,” he said.

 

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