UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Tuesday called on the UN member states to establish a comprehensive arms treaty to limit the flow of conventional arms to terrorists and criminal networks. Speaking at the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty [official website], the first-ever meeting of UN member states to negotiate a treaty for the trade of conventional arms, Ban said that an international standard for arms exports could save lives. In his statement, Ban emphasized the importance of regulating conventional arms:
For the first time, Member States are gathering at the United Nations to negotiate a treaty regulating the international conventional arms trade. It is important. It is impressive. And it is long overdue. We have made some progress on weapons of mass destruction issues over the years. But the international community has not kept pace on conventional arms. Yes, nuclear issues always capture headlines. But conventional arms are killing people everyday without much attention. ... Poorly regulated international arms transfers are fuelling civil conflicts, destabilizing regions, and empowering terrorists and criminal networks. ... In the last decade, nearly 800 humanitarian workers were killed in armed attacks. An agreed set of standards for arms exports, along with strict national legislation, can help begin to change all of that.Ban's comments came after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website], which sent representatives to the conference, on Sunday called on the participants [JURIST report] to adopt an effective treaty in order to save lives and aid in the enforcement of international law. The conference is scheduled to take place from July 2-27 in New York City. It will be attended by representatives from 193 member-states of the UN, as well as representatives from non-government organizations, and members of the arms industry.
International arms distribution continues to trouble governments and rights groups. In June Amnesty International 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.