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UN SG urges countries to sign arms trade treaty

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] urged all nations on Wednesday to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty [UN backgrounder]. The treaty will take effect [UN news centre report] when it receives 50 ratifications. Eighteen member states ratified the treaty on Tuesday in response, bringing the total number of ratifications to 31. The treaty was adopted [JURIST report] by the UN General Assembly [official website] last April. It was the first global arms treaty approved by the UN General Assembly and would regulate the trade of conventional weapons including battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and smaller arms.

In May 2013 JURIST Guest Columnist Clare da Silva of Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] argued [JURIST op-ed] that the treaty showed remarkable progress in the international regulation of arms transactions. The treaty prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons to governments in violation of UN arms embargoes 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 UN voted [JURIST report] to re-enter negotiations over an international arms treaty in December 2012. 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 2012 the UN allowed [JURIST report] the deadline for an arms treaty to pass without reaching a consensus. Earlier that month Ban had called on [JURIST report] the UN member states to establish a comprehensive arms treaty to limit the flow of conventional arms to terrorists and criminal networks.

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