The UN General Assembly [official website] on Tuesday approved [UN press release] the first global arms treaty a week after Syria, North Korea, and Iran blocked it. The treaty, which regulates trade of conventional weapons, passed [Washington Post Report] with 154 member states voting in favor of the treaty. Only 3 states voted against the treaty on the basis that it is too restrictive of the self-defense interests of smaller countries. Twenty-three countries abstained from voting, including Russia and China. The treaty prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons to governments in violation of UN arms embargos, and from exporting conventional weapons which may be used in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or terrorism. It also requires that states prevent conventional weapons from reaching the black market. The treaty does not control the use of domestic weapons. Restrictions on ammunition were considered, but the US struck down the idea. The treaty was praised by arms-control advocates, but critics fear that the treaty will be ineffective [Guardian report] because countries that are large arms dealers, including the US, UK, France and Russia, are given an unfair advantage. The National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website] has pledged to fight ratification of the treaty on the basis that it will weaken Second Amendment gun rights in the US. The treaty will take effect 90 days after 50 countries ratify it [Huffington Post report].
The UN voted [JURIST report] to re-enter negotiations over an international arms treaty in December. Previous negotiations had fallen apart, and many blamed the political climate in the US and the substantial pressure from the NRA to veto any international arms treaty. In July, the UN had allowed [JURIST report] the deadline for an arms treaty to pass without reaching a consensus.