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US is only country to oppose UN arms trade treaty

London Telegraph | October 30, 2006
By Sally Peck

America is the only country to have voted against a proposed United Nations treaty aimed at controlling international arms sales.

The proposed treaty, which human rights groups have promoted as a significant move towards keeping small arms out of conflict zones, was endorsed on Tuesday by 15 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop.

The measure, aimed at closing loopholes in existing arms trade treaties, would investigate ways to impose standards on the import, export and transfer of weapons.

The resolution was adopted with 139 countries voting in favour of the motion, 24 abstentions and only one "no" vote.

The measure is likely to be discussed next month by the UN General Assembly, which will then have to approve it in order to make it a law.

Human rights groups have welcomed the motion, saying they hope that, in its final form, the treaty would require nations to officially authorise all arms deals and also prohibit weapons transfers to countries deemed likely to use the arms to violate their citizens' human rights.

Oxfam called the resolution "the first concrete step towards a global treaty to close current loopholes in regulations that allow conventional weapons to fuel conflict, grave human rights violations and undermine development".

America, Britain, Russia, France and Germany supply about 80 per cent of the world's arms exports, though China, Brazil, India, Israel and Pakistan are emerging players in this field.

Of the major exporters, Britain, France and Germany voted in favour of the treaty, while Russia abstained.


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