To a burst of sustained applause, the General Assembly today voted overwhelmingly in favour of a “historic”, first-ever treaty to regulate the astonishing number of conventional weapons traded each year, making it more difficult for them to be diverted into the hands of those intent on sowing the seeds of war and conflict.
By a vote of 154 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria), with 23 abstentions, the Assembly passed the 28-article Arms Trade Treaty, aiming to establish the highest possible common international standards for the annual $70 billion business. The adoption follows the failure last week of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach consensus on the text at the conclusion of its two-week session. (Please see annex for details of the voting.)
“The final text is, in my view, robust and actionable,” said General Assembly President Vuc Jeremić ( Serbia). It also was “groundbreaking”, in that arms-exporting countries would be legally bound to report arms sales and transfers. They would be obliged to assess whether the weapons they sold could be used to facilitate human rights abuses and humanitarian law violations.