News / Europe

Optimism Ahead of UN Arms Trade Conference

Possibility that UN Can Strike Arms Trade Deal Breeds Optimismi
X
March 15, 2013 7:39 PM
Campaigners optimistic that a deal can be reached to control an industry worth an estimated $80 billion a year.
Henry Ridgwell
As the Syrian uprising marks its two-year anniversary, the U.N. estimates fighting between government and rebel forces has taken 70,000 lives.
 
The anniversary comes as diplomats head to the United Nations in New York for the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. The conference, which gets underway Monday, has campaigners optimistic that a deal can be reached to control an industry worth an estimated $80 billion a year.
 
But with universal consensus required to pass any agreement, any one country could derail a treaty.
 
“Amnesty International has been saying for at least a couple of years now that those arms have to be stopped, there needs to be a total embargo on Syria," said Brian Wood, head of arms control at Amnesty International. "Certainly if you had an arms trade treaty that was well formulated, this tragic situation could have been mitigated.”
 
Wood says the Syrian conflict is just one example of the huge global impact of the arms trade.
 
“Since the Second World War we’ve had almost 400 armed conflicts," he said. "That’s a lot. And that doesn’t even count the number of people dying in gang violence, in state repression, all the people who are injured or otherwise abused.”
 
The last U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in July 2012 ended without agreement. But this time around there is optimism that the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members will agree on a text.
 
But Woods says reaching consensus across the conference will be a challenge.
 
“If, for example, North Korea says ‘No we don’t want this,’ then it cannot be adopted by consensus," said Wood. "It has to be taken back to the General Assembly."
 
But according to Kaye Stearman of the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, even among those in favor of controlling the arms trade, there is not universal agreement.
 
“The Arms Trade Treaty is not going to stop that," said Stearman. "The arms trade is dominated by a few very large countries — USA, Britain, Russia, China, France, Germany — and none of those countries are doing anything to stop their own participation in the arms trade.”
 
Stearman says many countries backing the treaty are selling arms to governments with poor human rights records.
 
“Look at Saudi Arabia," she said. "It’s definitely a human rights abuser in more ways than one: it’s undemocratic; it’s abusive; it restricts the rights of women and children; it practices public beheadings, and yet the UK still manages to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. In fact it’s the largest customer for U.K. arms.”
 
The British Foreign Office, which declined an interview, gave a statement saying “the UK government takes its export licensing responsibilities seriously and operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world. ... We pay particular attention to allegations of human rights abuses.”
 
The arms trade is worth billions of dollars and observers say imposing controls will require a landmark global agreement.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs