UN General Assembly to vote on arms treaty

New york. The UN General Assembly was, yesterday, set to vote on what would be the first treaty to regulate the $70b global trade on conventional arms.
Seven of the top 10 arms producing companies are based in the US, according to Reuters, while Viktor Bout (the Merchant of Death--inset), earned notoriety for arms dealing in the world....
Seven of the top 10 arms producing companies are based in the US, according to Reuters, while Viktor Bout (the Merchant of Death--inset), earned notoriety for arms dealing in the world....

New york. The UN General Assembly was, yesterday, set to vote on what would be the first treaty to regulate the $70b global trade on conventional arms.

The vote on Tuesday comes a week after Iran, Syria and North Korea blocked the accord by consensus despite widespread support from Western, African and Latin American states.

The vote requires a majority of the 193-nation assembly, which practically guarantees adoption of the accord.

Kenya, with the backing of 63 other countries - including the United States, Britain and France - proposed that the General Assembly take up a resolution containing the blocked text.

If adopted, the treaty would then be open for signature.

Once adopted, every country would be free to sign and ratify the treaty. It will take effect after the 50th ratification, which could take up to two years.

The first major arms accord since the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would cover tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms and light arms.

It would aim to force countries to set up national controls on arms exports. States would also have to assess whether a weapon could be used for genocide, war crimes or by so-called “terrorists” or organised crime before it is sold.

‘Doubtful’ provisions

The United States - the world’s biggest arms dealer - is ready to sign the treaty but its ratification by the US Congress is not assured.

Assistant US Secretary of State for International Security Tom Countryman predicted on Thursday that other countries would join the objectors in voting against the treaty at the General Assembly.

But he added: “We think an overwhelming majority of states will vote in favour. I am happy to vote the opposite direction of such states as Iran, North Korea and Syria on this text”.

Two major players in the arms trade market - Russia and India - have left others guessing how they would vote and could very well not sign the treaty.

Moscow, a major exporter of weapons, has said there are “omissions” in the treaty and “doubtful” provisions, such as the failure to control arms transfers to non-state groups.

Russia is particularly worried about weapons getting into the hands of Chechen rebels.

New Delhi, a major buyer, also heavily criticised the text.

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