Friday, March 29, 2013

A Farewell to Arms Trade Treaty?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he was deeply disappointed with the failure of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to reach an agreement among all 193 Member States on a treaty text during the last day of the conference.  "The treaty had been within reach, thanks to the tireless work and spirit of compromise among Member States," the Secretary-General said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson. "The Secretary-General commends Ambassador Peter Woolcott, President of the Conference, for his leadership in guiding the complex negotiations," according to the statement. Mr. Ban also commended civil society and the majority of States for their active support. 

Some 2,000 representatives of Governments, international and regional organizations and civil society had gathered in New York since 18 March to hammer out the details of what was seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the UN. The draft text which was nearly adopted was considered "balanced" by Mr. Ban, according to his spokesperson, and would have established effective common standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms.

If passed, the treaty would have applied to all conventional arms within the following categories: battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons, according to the draft text. 

Armed violence kills more than half a million people each year, including 66,000 women and girls. In addition, between 2000 and 2010, almost 800 humanitarian workers were killed in armed attacks and another 689 injured, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. 

Given the importance of the issues involved, Mr. Ban "strongly hopes that Member States will continue exploring ways to bring the Treaty into being," his spokesperson said in the statement. Mr. Ban "is confident" that the Arms Trade Treaty will come to pass and is encouraged by the shared determination "to make this happen as soon as possible," he added. 

The previous attempts to reach a consensus on the treaty ended without success in July 2012. In December, the UN General Assembly agreed to a final conference and set today as the deadline for the two-week negotiations.

(UN Press Release)

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