Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arms: UN gears up for discussions on first-ever arms trade treaty

UN - With the first round of United Nations-backed talks on a global, legally-binding treaty on the import and export of weapons set to kick off next week, the official chairing the discussions said today he hopes that the pact will be concluded in 2012.

The priority given to the question of the weapons trade stretches back decades to the League of Nations, the forerunner to the UN, Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina, Chair of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), told reporters today.

Currently, 80 per cent of the global trade in conventional weapons is dominated by a handful of countries, but with globalization, new producers are entering the market, with over 100 nations producing some type of weapons.

“So the ATT is an effort to try to put a little bit of predictability into a very complex and sensitive issue,” Mr. García Moritán said at a press conference in New York.

The ultimate goal, he added, “is to try to have common standards to be applied by all countries when they export or import weapons.”

Article 51 of the UN Charter delineates that the world body’s Member States have the right to defend themselves against an attack. Countries can, therefore, purchase weapons for their self-defence and for their security needs, as well as in instances when they participate in UN peacekeeping operations.

“What we have in the world is a situation that is quite different,” Mr. García Moritán said, with countries sometimes applying their own criteria in the sale of weapons.

This can result in weapons finding their way to the illicit market and even in the destabilization of regions and countries.

He acknowledged that “the ATT will not solve all problems,” but he expressed hope that the pact will pave the way for a “common responsible attitude from all States that produce or buy or import weapons.”