The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 28, 2013

Optimism in UN over 1st global arms trade treaty

(Continued)

U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations have been private, said Wednesday the United States was virtually certain to go along with the latest text.

"We understand that a handful of skeptical states have not been happy with the final treaty," Whitney Brown, senior director of international law policy at Amnesty International said Thursday.

But she said that with the majority of states very supportive — including the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France which are all major arms exporters — "and even former skeptics like Iran we think it will be very difficult for the skeptics to gain much traction this afternoon."

"We need a treaty," China's U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We hope for consensus."

There has never been an international treaty regulating the estimated $60 billion global arms trade. For more than a decade, activists and some governments have been pushing for international rules to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organized crime.

"It's important for each and every country in the world that we have a regulation of the international arms trade," Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told the AP. "There are still some divergences of views, but I trust we can overcome them."

In considering whether to authorize the export of arms, the draft says a country must evaluate whether the weapon would be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian laws or be used by terrorists or organized crime. The final draft would allow countries to determine whether the weapons transfer would contribute to or undermine peace and security.

The draft would also require parties to the treaty to take measures to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons to the illicit market.

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