UN: Global cooperation needed to address illicit trade of small arms

UN: Global cooperation needed to address illicit trade of small arms

[JURIST] The United Nations Security Council [official website] on Saturday adopted [press release] a resolution which encourages increased cooperation in preventing the “illicit transfer, destabilizing, accumulation and misuse” of weapons, including small arms and light weapons. The resolution was adopted [UN News Centre report] after a vote of nine in favor and none against. Six members, Angola, Chad, China, Nigeria, Russian Federation and Venezuela, abstained, expressing concern about the lack of attention paid to keeping arms from all non-state actors. Mahamat Zene Cherif of Chad compared the refusal to expressly state in a provision that the transfer of arms to non-State actors would be made illegal to a refusal to prevent violence and conflict in a fragile state. The Security Council held a meeting on the issue of Member States that had not yet taken measures to regulate small arms deals last week. The resolution calls upon member States to consider ratifying or acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) [materials] as soon as possible.

This is not the first time that the UN has addressed issues relating to the arms trade in recent years. In April 2014 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] all nations to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty [UN backgrounder]. 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.