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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More