UN members fail to agree on global arms trade treaty

Updated: 2012-07-28 14:43


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UNITED NATIONS - The member states of the United Nations failed Friday to agree on a global arms trade treaty designed to regulate the multi-billion-dollar industry.

A total of 193 countries took part in the July 2-27 conference aimed at negotiating proposals and formulating what is expected to be the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations.

The UN General Assembly approved in 2006 to push forward a treaty on regulating the world arms trade market. In 2009, the United States changed its previous position and supported the plan of holding a UN conference this year to draft the treaty.

A revised version of the treaty text, which fixes some major loopholes, was released Thursday night, raising some hopes of gaining the approval of the states.

However, some big countries, including the United States and Russia, asked for more time to consider the content on Friday morning, the deadline of hammering out the treaty.

A group of more than 90 states issued a joint statement at the conclusion of the negotiations, read out by Mexico, saying they "are determined to secure an Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible".

Roberto Garcia Moritan, the conference chairman, said supporters knew that it would be "difficult" to achieve such a treaty, but he hoped that there would be a treaty coming out within this year.

The treaty text is expected to be brought to the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled in September.

Arms control organizations and activists voiced strong support for the approval of the treaty and expressed grave concerns about its failure.

"We have been fighting for more than 10 years for a robust Arms Trade Treaty and the fight continues. We will not give up, until a new, strong treaty is a reality," Jeff Abramson, director of the Control Arms Secretariat, said in a press release issued here.

"Not reaching consensus at this conference is of course a massive setback, but the vast majority of countries appeared ready to agree to prevent selling arms to human rights abusers - now they just need to finalize the detail on how it will be done," Abramson added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he is "disappointed" about the result.

"The conference's inability to conclude its work on this much-awaited Arms Trade Treaty, despite years of effort of member states and civil society from many countries, is a setback," he said.

Ban said that he is encouraged that this is not the end of the treaty, and that member states have agreed to continue pursuing this noble goal.