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UN SG concerned about progress on international arms treaty

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Thursday expressed concern [statement; press release] about the lack of progress being made at a UN conference to negotiate an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). With only two days remaining in the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty [official website], Ban expressed concern over the "very limited progress in the negotiations." The statement said that Ban was grateful for the efforts of the conference's president but called on the members of the conference to "show flexibility" in their negotiations. Ban still believes the conference can yield a useful treaty, the statement said. The conference is the first-ever meeting of UN member states to negotiate a treaty for the trade of conventional arms. Speaking at the opening of the conference earlier this month, Ban said that the creation of a strong international arms treaty could save lives [JURIST report]. The conference is 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. 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 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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