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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora