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UN Approves Global Arms Trade Treaty

The UN has approved a treaty to regulate the international transfer of conventional arms. Member States voted the Arms Trade Treaty in by a resounding 154 approvals. Only three states, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, and Iran, were against the treaty.
The treaty will enter into force 90 days after 50 states have ratified it. It has no bearing on current national arms regulations and does not ban the export of any specific weapon. However, the Arms Trade Treaty does put regulations on weapons like “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, small arms, and light weapons” (United Nations, 2013). The Arms Trade Treaty creates a legally binding obligation to governments making them responsible for assessing arms transfers to ensure that weapons will not be used “for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organized crime, or violations of humanitarian law” (Oxfam International, 2013). It also requires governments to refuse weapons transfers if there is a chance that they could be used to violate human rights or commit war crimes. According to Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection in New York, “the Arms Trade Treaty asks States to explicitly consider the risk that an arms transfer could facilitate serious acts of violence against women and children before allowing it to proceed. This is critical given that weapons are now one of the leading causes of death of children and adolescents in many countries, including many that are not experiencing war” (Smerdon, 2013).

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Oxfam International. (2013, April 2). States vote overwhelmingly for ground-breaking Arms Trade Treaty. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from OXFAM:

Smerdon, P. (2013, April 2). UNICEF welcomes adoption of Arms Trade Treaty as crucial step toward protecting children. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from UNICEF:

United Nations. (2013, April 2). LATEST STATEMENTS: New York, 2 April 2013 – Secretary-General’s Statement on the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from United Nations:

United Nations. (2013, April 2). UN General Assembly approves global arms trade treaty. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from UN News Centre: