The United Nations General Assembly today adopted a resolution effectively kicking off a diplomatic process aimed at promulgating a new international treaty on the global trade in conventional arms – a move immediately hailed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan – as it acted on a series of resolutions adopted at the recommendation of its Disarmament and International Security (First) Committee.
“The Secretary-General welcomes today’s adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution launching a process that could lead to a treaty regulating international trade in conventional weapons,” his spokesman said in a <"http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=2346">statement released in New York.
“While there are still many steps to be taken to forge a consensus to this end, the resolution represents the first formal step towards developing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons,” the spokesman said, pointing out that “unregulated trade in these weapons currently contributes to conflict, crime and terrorism, and undermines international efforts for peace and development.”
The resolution, “Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms,” was adopted by a recorded vote, with the United States alone in opposing the text which was supported by 153 countries. An additional two dozen countries abstained.
Under its terms, the Secretary-General was requested to seek the views of Member States “on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms” and to report on this at its next session.
He was also asked to establish a group of governmental experts to start examining in 2008 the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for such a treaty. This will be considered by the Assembly’s sixty-third session, which opens in September 2008.
The resolution was one of 52 submitted by the First Committee to the Assembly for action today. The Committee’s measures are traditionally among the most contentious submitted each year, and 2006 was no exception, with dozens of votes expected to be cast before day’s end on texts covering such subjects as the prevention of an arms race in outer space, multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.