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UN appeals for progress as deadline looms for global arms treaty

Tonight is the deadline for the draft of a new global deal to regulate the arms trade – but progress has been slow.

Image: VISAR KRYEZIU/AP

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL of the United Nations has urged countries to overcome persistent differences to agree a new international treaty regulating the sale of arms.

The UN’s Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty ends tomorrow, with Ban remaining concerned about the “very limited progress” that had been reached after 30 days of talks.

The talks include representatives from all 193 UN members, and were billed by the organisation as “the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations”.

Any deal, if reached, would see governments required to abide by common standards, set by international law, on decisions on arms transfers.

Ban Ki-Moon said he remained hopeful that a deal could be struck, and reminded delegates that they had a duty to victims of armed conflict “to build peace and make this a better world”.

The BBC said several major countries seemed reluctant to sign up to a deal to regulate the trade, which is worth between €50 billion and €60 billion a year.

It listed Russia, Syria, North Korea, Iran and Cuba among the countries which had reservations about participating in any global agreement to regulate the arms industry.

It quoted a British delegate, however, as saying that a historic deal “could be very close”.

The US, which has seen significant domestic opposition to any deal which compromises the domestic constitutional right to bear arms, is also among the countries reluctant to strike any deal.

Amnesty International remained upbeat, however, and said a historic deal could be “in sight” – saying the most recent draft of the proposed treaty was far stronger than earlier ones.

Its Irish head Colm O’Gorman said any final treaty could “help save the lives of thousands of people around the world”.

Critics have noted, however, that any proposals banning the sale of arms could still be circumvented – as political arrangements could still be reached so that arms sales could masquerade as ‘gifts’.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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