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Iran, N. Korea, Syria block UN arms treaty

PTI United Nations | Updated on March 12, 2018

Iran, North Korea and Syria have blocked the adoption of a UN arms trade treaty that would regulate the $70-billion conventional arms trade around the world, saying that it fails to ban the sales of weapons to groups that commit “acts of aggression’’.

The text of the first international treaty on arms trade needs support from all 193 UN member states for its approval.

The draft text came up for approval yesterday after the UN members failed to adopt it in July last year even after month-long negotiations.

Arms trade treaty

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed disappointment on the failure of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach an agreement on the text, which for the first time would have regulated the international arms trade.

“The treaty had been within reach, thanks to the tireless work and spirit of compromise among member states,” said a UN statement attributable to the spokesperson of the Secretary General after the draft text fell through due to lack of consensus among its 193 member countries.

Draft text

Supporting the move of proponents of the supporters of the treaty, Ban said the draft text was balanced and would have established effective common standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms.

Given the importance of the issues involved, the UN statement said Ban strongly hopes that the member states will continue exploring ways to bring the treaty into being.

He is confident that the arms trade treaty will come to pass and is encouraged by the shared determination to make this happen as soon as possible, the UN statement said.

Iranian UN envoy Mohammad Khazaee told the conference his country could not accept the treaty in its current form.

“The achievement of such a treaty has been rendered out of reach due to many legal flaws and loopholes... One of those flaws was its failure to ban sales of weapons to groups that commit acts of aggression,” he said.

“It is a matter of deep regret that genuine efforts of many countries for a robust, balanced and non-discriminatory treaty were ignored,” he added. Syrian and North Korean envoys echoed similar concerns.

The current draft does not ban the sales of weapons to armed groups but says all arms transfers should be subjected to rigorous risk and human rights assessments first.

India and others had complained that the treaty favours the arms exporting nations and remains silent on the illicit trafficking of such weapons to non-state actors.

Britain, the main sponsor of the resolution, said that though it is disappointed, it has not given up.

“I am deeply disappointed that the negotiations on an arms trade treaty closed today without consensus. After seven years of intensive work, the international community had never had a better chance to agree a global, legally binding treaty that would make the world a safer place,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Published on March 29, 2013

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