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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora