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UN Passes Arms Trade Treaty


Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly applaud the passage of the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade in conventional arms at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 2, 2013.

Agreement will establish standards for regulation of international trade in conventional arms.

The United States is pleased that the United Nations General Assembly has approved the Arms Trade Treaty. “This treaty,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade.”


The official vote count in the 193 nation U.N. General Assembly showed that 154 members voted in favor with 23 abstentions. Iran, Syria, and North Korea cast the sole votes against the treaty. The UN has imposed arms embargoes on Iran and North Korea while Syria continues to engage in the brutal slaughter of its own people, fueled by weapons smuggled from countries like Iran.

The Arms Trade Treaty will establish common international standards for the national regulation of the international trade in conventional arms and require all states to develop and implement the kind of controls on international arms transfers that the United States already has in place.

It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. At the same time, the treaty recognizes that arms sales will continue to be legitimate commercial activity that allows nations to acquire the arms they need for their own security.

This treaty, Secretary Kerry stressed, applies only to international trade, and reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate arms within its territory.

The treaty will be open for signature on June 3 and will enter into force 90 days after the 50th signatory country ratifies it.
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