At the United Nations, preliminary debate begins Thursday on a resolution to initiate work on a global arms trade treaty. Nearly 80 governments have co-sponsored the resolution, including South Africa, Liberia and Rwanda.

Anna MacDonald is a policy adviser for OXFAM International. From New York, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the resolution.

?The resolution is calling for a group of governmental experts, known as a GGE, to be set up to explore how an arms trade treaty would work and what it should contain. It?s basically the first step in the road towards securing an arms trade treaty, which will make the world safer from armed violence,? she says.

She describes the current state of conventional arms trade control. ?The problem we have at the moment is that there just aren?t any international effective controls?so, while some countries have national export controls and some regions have a regional agreement, they all vary enormously. And at best what we?ve got is series of patchwork legislation around the world. The point of an arms trade treaty is it would bring all countries to be bound under the same set of minimum standards. So, all countries would be operating by the same rules and it would be harder for an unscrupulous arms dealer or an unscrupulous government to get their weapons through to some of the world?s worst conflict hotspots,? she says.

OXFAM International, Amnesty International and The International Action network on Small Arms have joined forces to campaign for a treaty. While pushing for quick action, it would still take several years to come up with a potential document capable of being signed and ratified.