Friday, October 03, 2014

Arms: At annual event, UN Member States pave way for ‘historic’ treaty on conventional arms

Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN - Fifty-two States participated in the this year’s United Nations treaty event, held annually on the margins of the UN General Assembly’s high-level segment, as they signed or ratified a range of treaties on issues spanning human rights, disarmament, the environment, transnational organized crime and world trade, the Organization announced at the conclusion of the week-long process.

“The success of the treaty event this year serves to underline the continued commitment of all UN Member States to address global challenges through internationally agreed norms and standards,” stated Miguel Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel who flagged, in particular, the milestone reached on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

“The upcoming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in particular provides a tangible example of how the multilateral treaty framework can be harnessed by States to collectively combat global threats to peace, security and the rule of law,” Mr. Serpa Soares said.

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in April 2013, the ATT 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. To enter into force, it required 50 ratifications, which it obtained at the latest treaty event session. The ATT will now enter into force on 24 December 2014.

Welcoming the news, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked that the international community could now “look ahead with satisfaction to the date of this historic new Treaty’s entry into force.”

“Now we must work for its efficient implementation and seek its universalisation so that the regulation of armaments – as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations – can become a reality once and for all,” Mr. Ban declared.

During the course of the treaty event, which ran from 23 September to 1 October, some 81 actions were completed by Member States. A number of issues were spotlighted, including the protection of the environment, as Djibouti, Gabon, Guyana, Monaco, and Uruguay joined the United States in signing the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The Convention, which was adopted on 10 October in the Japanese city of Kumamoto, was named after the place where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury in the mid-20th century. Twenty other States also signed the Convention, bringing the total number of signatories up to 122, with the US the first country to ratify it.

At the same time, the event saw Latvia, Poland, and Spain ratify the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – setting a definition and framework for the prosecution of the crime of aggression.