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Global Arms Trade Treaty Comes Into Force

  • RFE/RL

A landmark treaty regulating the global arms trade has come into force.

The new Arms Trade Treaty is the first agreement to outline global guidelines for the sales of weapons, which is estimated to generate up to $85 billion annually.

In a statement, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the treaty "marks the opening of a new chapter in our collective efforts to bring responsibility, accountability, and transparency to the global arms trade."

"Ultimately, it attests to our collective determination to reduce human suffering by preventing the transfer or diversion of weapons to areas afflicted by armed conflict and violence," Ban added.

He also called on all countries to join the agreement "without delay."

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein hailed the treaty as providing a framework "to end the flow of weaponry that may be used to commit atrocities and other serious human rights violations."

However, campaigners say much work lies ahead to implement the treaty, with a first meeting of states parties to be held in September 2015.

The accord regulates cross-border transfers of conventional weapons ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters.

The deal creates binding requirements for states to review contracts to ensure weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law, or organized crime.

It also bans arms supplies if this promotes war crimes or genocide.

Of the 130 signatories of the treaty, 60 have ratified it. Those countries include Germany, France, and Britain, three of the world's major arms exporters.

The United States and Israel have only signed, but not ratified the treaty.

Other major weapons producers like Russia, China, India, and Pakistan have not signed it.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa