United States signs Arms Trade Treaty


Eighteen countries, including the United States, have signed a new treaty regulating international trade in conventional arms on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly high-level debate this week.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the total number of signatories was now more than half of all UN Member States.
“It is of particular significance that the largest arms exporting country in the world, the United States, is now also among those countries who have committed to a global regulation of the arms trade,” Ban said.

Among other provisions, the new treaty – which will enter into force once it receives 50 ratifications – includes a prohibition on the transfer of arms which would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity and certain war crimes.

The treaty was adopted by a vote in the 193-member General Assembly in April after the final UN Conference dedicated to the issue failed to garner consensus on a text. The signatures received so far push the number of signatories to 107, with two more expected.

The treaty regulates all conventional arms within the categories of battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons.

A 2011 study commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), entitled “The Global Burden of Armed Violence,” documented that more than half a million people die as a result of armed violence every year, fuelled in many cases by the widespread availability of weapons. Many more suffer horrific injuries and abuses, including rape, while still more are forced from their homes.

The Secretary-General believes the newest signings “will contribute to efforts to reduce insecurity and suffering for people on all continents,” his spokesperson said, adding: “He calls upon other countries to follow suit.”