Negotiations for a landmark conventional arms trade treaty have opened at the United Nations in New York.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the talks on March 18, calling for major powers to make concessions and move toward crafting what would be the first binding treaty to regulate the global weapons trade.
"This is no doubt a difficult issue. Yet the absence of the rule of law in the conventional arms trade defies explanation," Ban told delegates. "We have international standards regulating everything from T-shirts to toys to tomatoes. There are international regulations for furniture. That means there are common standards for the global trade in arm chairs but not the global trade in arms."
Ban told the assembly that a treaty would make it more difficult for warlords, organized criminals, and terrorists to obtain weapons. He added that 500,000 people are dying each year due to weapons obtained illegally or used for genocide.
Talks in July ended in failure amid sharp divisions over how tough the treaty should be. Supporters want binding requirements for nations to review cross-border arms transfers to ensure that weapons are not used in human rights abuses or violate embargoes.
But Peter Woolcott, the Australian Ambassador to the UN and the president of the conference, said disappointment has given way to determination to reach an agreement.
"During my consultations over the last few months I have been impressed by the seriousness and thoughtfulness with which governments, and intergovernmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations have prepared for this conference," Woolcott said. "In my view, this shows that the world is ready for the arms-trade treaty. This conference is our opportunity to finish the job, so let's seize it."
The UN General Assembly has declared the current negotiations, which run until March 28, a “final” attempt.
The global arms trade is worth more than $70 billion annually.
Based on reporting by AP and AFP