Governments to sign landmark UN treaty regulating global trade in arms

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 3:57am


Governments were yesterday due to sign the world's first internationally binding agreement to regulate the trade in conventional weapons.

Adopted by the UN in April after a vote of 154 to three, the treaty seeks to control the global trade in arms and ammunition.

The treaty, which will regulate sales of battle tanks, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships and small arms and light weapons, will be signed by top arms exporters including Britain, Germany and France. The US is expected to sign later this year.

Though it will not control domestic use of weapons, once ratified, the treaty requires nations to implement regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms, regulate arms brokers, and assess the risks of weapons being used in human rights violations.

The head of arms control at Oxfam, Anna Macdonald, said: "The signing of the arms trade treaty gives hope to the millions affected by armed violence every day. Gunrunners and dictators have been sent a clear message that their time of easy access to weapons is up.

"For generations the arms trade has been shrouded in secrecy, but from now on it will be open to scrutiny. This treaty now makes governments take responsibility for every arms transfer that enters or leaves their territory, and requires they put human rights and humanitarian law, not profit, at the heart of every decision. Too many lives have been lost to armed violence - today's ceremony marks a new dawn."

West African Action Network on Small Arms president Baffour Amoa said: "Today … takes us one step closer to tackling attacks against civilians and sexual violence in Africa, including eastern Congo, where millions have seen their lives torn apart by conflict."