[JURIST] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] on Sunday said [press release] that an effective international arms treaty would save lives and aid in the enforcement of international law. The statement by the ICRC was made in anticipation of the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty [official website], which is being held in New York from July 2-27. Participants are expected to negotiate a treaty obligating international governments to take some responsibility for distribution of weapons within their borders. In its statement, ICRC said it would encourage a treaty that banned the distribution of weapons that would likely be used to violate international or humanitarian law. The committee stressed the importance of adopting a strong and effective treaty:
Through its work to assist and protect victims during and after armed conflicts, the ICRC is witness to the human cost of the widespread availability and misuse of conventional weapons. By conventional weapons, we mean all weapons that are not nuclear, biological or chemical. We are convinced that an effective Arms Trade Treaty would save lives, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance, and strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law.
The arms trade treaty conference 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.