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UN Adopts First Arms-Trade Regulation Treaty

The U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved the first treaty on global arms trade.

The treaty is intended to regulate the $80-billion-a-year conventional arms trade. The treaty will not control the domestic use of weapons in any country, but it requires countries to establish national laws to control the transfer of conventional arms, parts and components, and to regulate arms brokers.

The treaty only covers conventional arms, which range from light weapons to battle tanks and warships.

The assembly voted 154-3 for a resolution that will open the treaty for signature beginning in June.

Syria, North Korea and Iran, which had stalled the treaty last week, voted against it. Russia was among the 23 abstentions.



The treaty prohibits transferring conventional weapons if it violates arms embargoes or if it would promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. It also prohibits the export of conventional arms to be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.

The treaty says a country must evaluate whether an exported weapon would be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian laws or be used by terrorists or organized crime. Countries must also determine whether the weapons transfer would contribute to or undermine peace and security.

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