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UN votes to negotiate international arms treaty

The UN General Assembly [official website] voted [press release] Monday to re-enter negotiations over an international treaty for the global sale of arms, a 70 billion dollar industry. The General Assembly adopted an arms treaty with 133 votes in favor of the updated text, no votes against it, and 17 abstentions. This vote was opposed [Reuters report] by the National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website], who lobbied against the UN's vote. Negotiations over an international arms treaty which broke down in July, will now resume. UN delegates said that the talks originally fell apart due to the political climate in the US with President Barack Obama fearing that an international treaty for the sale of arms would be politically damaging in the wake of the presidential election. The Obama Administration has now come out in support of an international arms treaty. Meanwhile, the NRA opposes any type of international arms treaty and has put pressure on President Obama to oppose treaty negotiations for the global sale of arms. As part of the vote, the General Assembly agreed to convene in New York from March 10 through March 28, 2013.

The UN's vote comes just a day after the NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dismissed [JURIST report] called for a renewed ban on assault weapons on Sunday. LaPierre said that an assault weapons ban was a "phony piece of legislation." After LaPierre's interview on Sunday, it is very unlikely that the NRA will support any new regulations on guns. LaPierre reiterated the NRA's support for having an armed police officer at every school in the the country. In August UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] the international community to prevent the illegal trade of weapons, which are responsible for killing more than 500,000 people every year. The Program of Action adopted by various countries in 2001 lists recommendations for countries to bolster national legislation combating the illegal trade of weapons and improve regional and international cooperation to assist in this effort.

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