News / Europe

UN Arms Treaty Stalled

What Would the Arms Trade Treaty Do?

  • Create a more level playing field for global arms transfers
  • Require all exporting countries to agree to similar standards
  • Fill a gap in efforts to curb the illegal arms trade
  • Would not ban or prohibit the export of any type of weapon
  • Would not impair states' right to self-defense

Source: UNODA
A United Nations global treaty on conventional arms is on hold after three countries blocked consensus on a final text but it can still be adopted by the U.N. in the very near future.

The proposed legally-binding treaty would set international standards to regulate the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons - from battle tanks, warships and attack helicopters to small arms and light weapons. Major arms exporters such as the United States and Russia - and major importers, such as India, China and Pakistan, participated in the negotiations.

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, an independent research firm, said the treaty would represent an important step forward.

Treaty a Major Step Forward

“This treaty is a balancing act between the major arms exporters and buyers as well as states affected by the illicit arms trade,” said Kimball. “It’s a good, effective treaty that is going to make a positive difference in cutting down on irresponsible arms transfers.”

Kimball also said the treaty would establish key human rights criteria that all states would need to evaluate before authorizing arms transfers.

“It specifically prohibits certain arms transfers if there is knowledge that the transfer will be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva conventions, attacks against civilian objects or civilians or other war crimes. So that’s quite strong,” said Kimball. “And some of those provisions arguably would prevent countries like Russia from continuing to supply Syria right now with conventional weapons, if this treaty were in effect.”

Kimball also said the treaty would mandate all states to regulate the export of ammunition - a provision initially opposed by the United States.

“But because ammunition fuels conflicts long after weapons transfers have occurred, many states, including many African states, insisted that ammunition had to be covered," he said. "And the United States has adjusted its position and this treaty will regulate the export of ammunition - which, I should say, the United States already does as a matter of national law and practice.”

Three Countries Veto Treaty

The U.N. treaty had to be approved by consensus, which means that any single country could block its endorsement. Three countries - Iran, North Korea and Syria - objected to various parts of the treaty, effectively vetoing its adoption.

But Britain’s representative, Ambassador Joanne Adamson, told the delegates that the action by the three countries is only a temporary setback.

“This is not a failure,” she said. “Today is success deferred - and deferred by not very long.”

Ambassador Adamson said her delegation will in the very near future take the arms treaty to the United Nations General Assembly for consideration. There the treaty will be able to receive the necessary two-thirds majority to be adopted and become part of international law.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid