The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 28, 2013

Optimism in UN over 1st global arms trade treaty

— UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The first global treaty on regulating the multimillion-dollar international arms trade appeared to be nearing consensus, supporters said, though worries remained that Iran, India or other countries would back off an agreement that requires approval from all 193 U.N. member states.

Thursday is the deadline for reaching a deal and ahead of the vote optimism was growing that the long-debated treaty would become a reality.

"Signals are that the treaty stands a good chance of being adopted today," said Anna Macdonald, head of arms control at Oxfam, one of about 100 organizations worldwide in the Control Arms coalition, which has been campaigning for a strong treaty. "There have been concerns that Iran might block" consensus but an Iranian television station has reported "that Iran is going to support it."

Ahead of the vote, Macdonald said, a number of delegates met with Australian Ambassador Peter Woolcott, who is chairing the negotiations and presented the final draft of the treaty on Wednesday.

The draft treaty does not control the domestic use of weapons in any country, but it would require all countries to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms, parts and components and to regulate arms brokers. It would prohibit states that ratify the treaty from transferring conventional weapons if they violate arms embargoes or if they promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

The final draft makes this human rights provision even stronger, adding that the export of conventional arms should be prohibited if they could be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.

Hopes of reaching agreement on what would be a landmark treaty were dashed last July when the U.S. said it needed more time to consider the proposed accord — a move quickly backed by Russia and China. In December, the U.N. General Assembly decided to hold a final conference and set Thursday as the deadline.

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