Weapons Trade Pact Wins OK in U.N. Treaty Would Curb Sales to Terrorists
Lederer, Edith M, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade after a more-than-decade- long campaign to keep weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, warlords, organized crime figures and human rights violators.
Loud cheers erupted in the assembly chamber as the electronic board flashed the final vote: 154 in favor, 3 against and 23 abstentions.
"This is a victory for the world's people," U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said. "The Arms Trade Treaty will make it more difficult for deadly weapons to be diverted into the illicit market. ... It will be a powerful new tool in our efforts to prevent grave human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law."
The United States, the world's biggest arms exporter, voted yes.
Iran, North Korea and Syria -- all facing arms embargoes -- cast the only no votes. They argued, among other things, that the agreement favors major arms suppliers such as the United States over importers that need weapons for self-defense.
Russia and China, which are also major arms exporters, abstained along with India and Indonesia, while nuclear-armed Pakistan voted in favor. Many Arab countries -- including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Qatar -- abstained, while Lebanon voted yes.
Never before has there been a treaty regulating the global arms trade, which is estimated to be worth $60 billion today, and which Amnesty International predicts will exceed $100 billion in the next four years.
"Today's victory shows that ordinary people who care about protecting human rights can fight back to stop the gun lobby dead in its tracks, helping to save countless lives," said Frank Jannuzi, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA. "The voices of reason triumphed over skeptics, treaty opponents and dealers in death to establish a revolutionary treaty that constitutes a major step toward keeping assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons out of the hands of despots and warlords who use them to kill and maim civilians, recruit child soldiers and commit other serious abuses. …