http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/0...92R10720130329Iran, Syria and North Korea on Friday prevented the adoption of the first international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade, complaining that it was flawed and failed to ban weapons sales to rebel groups.
To get around the blockade, a number governments called on Peter Woolcott of Australia, the president of the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, to submit the draft treaty to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and request a swift vote on it in the General Assembly.
U.N. diplomats said the 193-nation General Assembly could put the draft treaty to a vote as early as Tuesday. Britain supported the call for an assembly vote on the draft very soon.
"A good, strong treaty has been blocked," Britain's chief delegate Joanne Adamson said. "Most people in the world want regulation and those are the voices that need to be heard."
"This is success deferred," she added.
United Nations member states began meeting last week in a final push to end years of discussions and hammer out a binding international treaty to end the lack of regulation over cross-border conventional arms sales.
Arms control activists and human rights groups say a treaty is needed to halt the uncontrolled flow of arms and ammunition that they say fuels wars, atrocities and rights abuses.
Delegates to the treaty-drafting conference said on Wednesday they were close to a deal to approve the treaty, but cautioned that Iran and other countries might attempt to block it. Iran, Syria and North Korea did just that, blocking the required consensus for it to pass.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had told Iran's Press TV that Tehran supports the arms trade treaty. But Iranian U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the conference that he could not accept the treaty in its current form.
"The achievement of such a treaty has been rendered out of reach due to many legal flaws and loopholes," he said. "It is a matter of deep regret that genuine efforts of many countries for a robust, balanced and non-discriminatory treaty were ignored."
One of those flaws was its failure to ban sales of weapons to groups that commit "acts of aggression," ostensibly referring to rebel groups, he said. The current draft does not ban transfers to armed groups but says all arms transfers should be subjected to rigorous risk and human rights assessments first.
U.S. DEMANDED CONSENSUS RULE
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari echoed the Iranian concerns, saying he also objected to the fact that it does not prohibit weapons transfers to rebel groups.
"Unfortunately our national concerns were not taken into consideration," he said. "It can't be accepted by my country."
A North Korean delegate voiced similar complaints, suggesting it was a discriminatory treaty: "This (treaty) is not balanced."
Iran, which is under a U.N. arms embargo over its nuclear program, is eager to ensure its arms imports and exports are not curtailed, diplomats said. Syria is in a two-year-old civil war and hopes Russian and Iranian arms keep flowing in, they added.
North Korea is also under a U.N. arms embargo due to its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
The U.S. delegation said it would have voted for the treaty. Russia and China made clear they would not have blocked it but have serious reservations about the text and its failure to get consensus. A Russian delegate told the conference that Moscow would have to think hard about signing it if it is approved.
If adopted by the General Assembly, the pact will need to be signed and ratified by at least 50 states to enter into force.
Several diplomats and human rights groups that have lobbied hard in favour of the treaty complained that the requirement of consensus for the pact to pass was something that the United States insisted on years ago. That rule gave every U.N. member state the ability to veto the draft treaty.
"The world has been held hostage by three states," said Anna Macdonald, an arms control expert at humanitarian agency Oxfam. "We have known all along that the consensus process was deeply flawed and today we see it is actually dysfunctional."
"Countries such as Iran, Syria and DPRK (North Korea) should not be allowed to dictate to the rest of the world how the sale of weapons should be regulated," she added.
The point of an arms trade treaty is to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons. It would also create binding requirements for states to review all cross-border arms contracts to ensure arms will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism or violations of humanitarian law.
The main reason the arms trade talks took place at all is that the United States - the world's biggest arms exporter - reversed U.S. policy on the issue after President Barack Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support an arms treaty.
The U.S. demand that the conference be run on the basis of consensus was because Washington wanted to be able to block any treaty that undermined the U.S. constitutional right to bear arms, a sensitive political issue in the United States.
The National Rifle Association, a powerful U.S. pro-gun lobbying group, opposes the treaty and has vowed to fight to prevent its ratification if it reaches Washington. The NRA says the treaty would undermine domestic gun-ownership rights.
The American Bar Association, an attorneys' lobby group, has said that the treaty would not impact the right to bear arms.
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Iran, North Korea, Syria block UN arms trade treaty watch
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- 29-03-2013 01:53
- 29-03-2013 10:03
Regardless of the arms trade continuing, we shall not be exporting weapons to the Iranians, Syrians or the Koreans. We cannot allow them to acquire WMDs at such a crucial and above all tense situation.
- 29-03-2013 18:38
Madagascar is concerned that the process has been held up by 3 countries, and thinks that it is not surprising that it should be these three countries which object. This treaty needs to be agreed and passed and Madagascar finds it deeply flawed that every single state should have to be in consensus in order for the treaty to be passed. It is clear that there is never going to be consensus on such delicate issues, but there nonetheless needs to be a way to agree on important arms legislation.
- 29-03-2013 21:51
The Swiss Confederation would rather see a peaceful treaty brought in rather than have it recieve unjust criticism.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan believes that criticism of this treaty is unjust. The Kingdom respects treaties that regulates the arms trade and we encourage our Arab neighbours to do the same.
The Republic of India condemns the moves by Iran, Syria and the DPRK believing that they are hindering global peace and security by forming a blockade against such a significant treaty. We call for the representatives of those three counties to explain their choice to block it.
- 30-03-2013 01:01
Canada hopes that the issue can be resolved swiftly and firmly, regulation is important in current tensions in North Korea and the Middle East.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is outraged, this is yet another attempt by the West to try and marginalize countries they don't agree with. The treaty is riddled with loopholes and flaws and we, along with Syria and the DPRK are making serious attempts to try and solve this but the Western aggressors our happy to push through flawed treaties. Iran will not stand for this and we urge China and Russia to reconsider before signing this treaty.
- 02-04-2013 00:08
Malaysia sees this as a legitimate treaty with no reason for such prevention of necessary regulation. We hope that a solution as such can be provided to safeguard the use of the use of these arms.
- 05-04-2013 16:21
The UK seconds the sentiments of the USA in this matter.
- 15-04-2013 01:20
Austria does not accept the will of these nations, as nations of tyranny they should be expelled from the UN.
- 20-04-2013 17:12
As the Military and Criminal Affairs Officer I agree with the blockade of the UN arms trade treaty, the treaty would only lead to more violence being committed by countries "claiming" to be defending their land and also "rebels" who are trying to bring "democracy"
- 20-04-2013 19:36
Iran believes that there are a number of flaws with this treaty and therefore would not become a signatory until these problems are addressed. There appears to be a bias against Iran from the International Community, and we would ask that those who do not support our stance objectively look at the legislation and address our concerns, rather than condemn our actions.
- 21-04-2013 22:30
Myanmar supports the statement of Malaysia. Our view upon this case is the same as Malaysia.
- 22-04-2013 18:12
The Netherlands believes that the treaty needs to go ahead, especially as tensions are raising in the Korean peninsula and the Middle East. If these crises are to be solved, this is a step along the road.