UNITED NATIONS, June 3 (APP): The first international treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade opened for signature at U.N Headquarters in New York on Monday, culminating a decades-long push to halt illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. Approved overwhelmingly two months ago in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 154 to three North Korea, Iran and Syria with 23 abstentions, the treaty, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions.India, China, Russia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia and Sudan were among the abstaining states. The delegation of Pakistan, which had voted for the treaty, was not in a position to sign the treaty on Monday as the matter is in process.
It is understood that the incoming government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may like to have a look at the text of the treaty before making a decision to sign it.
While voting for the treaty on April 2, Pakistan U.N. Ambassador Masood Khan said his country had done so to demonstrate “solidarity” with the people and states that are negatively impacted by unregulated commerce in conventional weapons.
“We believe that credible steps need to be taken to ensure that conventional weapons and munitions – small or heavy – will not be used for terrorism, for transnational crime, or in violation of human rights and humanitarian law; and that they will not be illegally diverted,” Ambassador Masood Khan said.
Despite Pakistan’s vote in favour of the Treaty, he said there were omission in the first-ever Treaty to control global conventional arms trade of important definitions, which not only departed from established practice, but could be used by arms exporting countries to circumvent its provisions.
The Treaty failed to achieve unanimous support in a diplomatic conference last week but garnered the support of a majority of member states in the General Assembly.
“We regret that the the ATT could not be adopted by consensus,” the Pakistani envoy said, noting that a little more flexibility by all sides could have addressed that problem.
“Universality would have ensured wider validity and more predictable implementation.” ON Monday, UNODA said, the treaty will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools, UNODA states.
Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, opened this mornings special event, saying that the day opens a new chapter in which States will sign up to an international contract bringing responsibility and transparency to the global arms trade.
While the treaty is not perfect, she said it is certainly robust.
Some 30 countries are listed to take part in today’s events, which will be capped by a Ministerial segment this even, which will be opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and is expected to feature a keynote address by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The Treaty will come into force 90 days after it has been signed by 50 nations. Though it will not control the domestic weapons use, once ratified, it will require States to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and regulate arms brokers, among other objectives.