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World's first binding treaty on conventional arms trade opens for signature at UN

3 June 2013 – The first international treaty regulating the global arms trade opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters this morning, culminating a decades-long push to halt illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

Approved overwhelmingly two months ago in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 154 to three – Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria – with 23 abstentions, the treaty, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), "will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions."

"It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools," UNODA states.

Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, opened this morning's special event, saying that the day opens "a new chapter in which States will sign up to an international contract bringing responsibility and transparency to the global arms trade." While the treaty is "not perfect," she said it is certainly "robust".

Some 30 countries are listed to take part in today's events, which will be capped by a Ministerial segment this even, which will be opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and is expected to feature a keynote address by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

The Treaty will come into force 90 days after it has been signed by 50 nations. Though it will not control the domestic weapons use, once ratified, it will require States to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and regulate arms brokers, among other objectives.

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