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Deadline for UN arms treaty passes without consensus

After four weeks of international negotiations, the deadline to approve an agreement at the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty [official website] passed on Friday without consensus. The proposed regulations, entitled the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), would have required the support of all 193 member states of the UN to be approved. Internationally, many blame the failure to reach an agreement on the US where there had been some internal concern that the ATT may violate 2nd Amendment protections. Despite assurances from the Obama Administration that those concerns were unfounded, 51 Senators joined in writing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official websites] urging them not to sign the treaty [AP report]. The Department of State [official website] issued a statement [official statement] in response to the failure to reach an agreement claiming that they remain optimistic an agreement can be reached after the ATT has been subjected to "further review and refinement." China and Russia, both large arms manufacturers, joined the United States in requesting more time before agreeing to the treaty.

International arms distribution continues to trouble governments and rights groups. Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] said that the creation of a strong international arms treaty could save lives and on Thursday he issued a statementexpressing concern for the lack of progress [JURIST reports] being made at the negotiations. Also earlier this month, in anticipation of the conference, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), called on the participants [JURIST report] to adopt an effective arms treaty in order to save lives and aid in the enforcement of international law. In June, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called for an end to the supply of arms [JURIST report] to groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a report highlighted the flaws in Congolese security, which AI says leads to the availability and misuse of weapons and ammunition. In April, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was sentenced in a US court to 25 years imprisonment [JURIST report]. Bout was convicted in November [JURIST report] on four counts of conspiracy for his proposed sale of anti-aircraft missiles to drug enforcement informants posing as potential buyers for a designated foreign terrorist organization.

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