UN arms treaty talks resume amid hurdles
Monday, March 18, 2013
Talks resume Monday on a United Nations treaty to regulate the
sale of conventional arms -- amid roadblocks put up by some of the
world's key players.
After four weeks of negotiations failed in July,
the 193 members of the global body will again attempt to hammer out an
accord that could force states to assess, before making a sale, whether
weapons will be used for human rights violations, terrorism or organized
But hurdles loom large since major arms producers
and buyers have fought to chip away at the sales conditions and even to
exclude whole categories from the treaty.
The United States, for one, refuses to include
ammunition. China wants to protect its small arms, and Russia opposed
including gifts and transfers of arms that could be made to an ally.
The US State Department reaffirmed Friday that it
opposes any treaty that includes ammunition because of the financial and
administrative burden of keeping checks.
"The United States is steadfast in its commitment
to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty," said Secretary of
State John Kerry.
But he added that his country, the world's top
arms producer, could only agree on a "treaty that addresses
international transfers of conventional arms solely."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meanwhile called for a treaty that includes ammunition.
"It is our collective responsibility to put an end
to the inadequate regulation of the global trade in conventional
weapons -- from small arms to tanks to combat aircraft," he said.
As talks were about to get underway, Amnesty International urged action by pointing to conflicts in Syria, Mali and elsewhere.
"Syria, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Sri Lanka are just a few recent examples where the world bore
witness to the horrific human cost of a reckless global arms trade
steeped in secrecy," Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary
general, said in a statement.
"It shouldn't take millions more dying and lives
destroyed before leaders show some backbone and take action to adopt
global standards to effectively control international arms transfers."
Amnesty has highlighted how the five permanent
members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and
the United States -- account for more than half the global sales of