Dozens Of States Call For Stronger Arms Trade Treaty As Second Draft Released
July 26, 2012
by Courtney Brooks
Nearly 80 countries have jointly released a statement condemning as too weak a second draft Arms Trade Treaty circulated among UN member states 24 hours before the negotiations are to conclude.
But shortly after the statement was passed around the room on July 27), Cuba and Algeria separately raised objections over language in the treaty which they said were stronger than they had agreed to.
In a teleconference an hour before the draft was circulated, representatives from Amnesty International and the Arms Control Association said even as they waited for a stronger text than was circulated on July 24, there were concerns about several states blocking the treaty, including North Korea and Iran.
The treaty, which would be the first-ever binding agreement to regulate the $80 billion global arms trade, must be adopted by consensus on July 27 if it is to be implemented. This gives every member state participating in the negotiations veto power.
However, if the treaty is not adopted on July 27 it can instead be brought to the General Assembly as a resolution and adopted by a two-thirds consensus.
The diverse array of countries which signed the statement, ranging from Sweden to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that the new draft "does not meet our expectations."
It criticized the scope of the treaty as too narrow -- citing the exclusion of ammunition "in a meaningful way" as an example of this.
It also stated that the language in the treaty was too vague.
The statement did not include the five permanent members of the Security Council: the United States, Russia, China, Britain, or France.
NGOs, including Amnesty International and the Arms Control Association, sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday urging him to push for ammunition to be included in the treaty and close other gaping loopholes.
Frank Jannuzi, the head of Amnesty International's Washington office, said that "all eyes are on Washington to see whether the Obama administration is prepared to lead this treaty to a successful conclusion."
A spokesperson for the British mission told the press by email that it considered the new text to be a "substantial improvement," adding that "an historic agreement that effectively regulated the international trade in conventional arms is now very close."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also released a statement expressing concern over the "very limited progress" achieved thus far and calling for a robust and legally binding treaty.
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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