UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged UN member states to work towards a treaty that regulates trade in conventional arms, stressing that the establishment of a set of rules on this issue is long overdue.
"We have made some progress on weapons of mass destruction issues over the years, but the international community has not kept pace on conventional arms. Nuclear issues capture headlines, but conventional arms are killing people everyday," Ban said while opening the first UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.
In his opening address, the UN chief also noted that poorly regulated international arms transfers are fueling civil conflicts, destabilizing regions, and empowering terrorists as well as criminal networks across the globe.
He said an internationally accepted set of standards for arms export along with strict national legislation can help in reducing conflicts across the world. He added that widespread availability of arms are currently responsible for fueling most of the armed violence.
Ban stressed that such a treaty would also "improve our ability to deliver across the board, from promoting social and economic development to supporting peacekeeping and peace-building; from monitoring sanctions and arms embargoes to protecting children and civilians; from promoting women's empowerment to fostering the rule of law."
Noting that Tuesday's conference marked the first time that member states were gathering at the UN to negotiate a treaty regulating the international conventional arms trade, Ban said: "Everyone in this room is making history."
"Our common goal is clear: a robust and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence. It is ambitious - but it is achievable," the UN chief added.
The conference at the UN Headquarters in New York will last over the next four weeks. It has brought together all of the UN's 193 Member States to negotiate and finalize a conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. The conference organizers claim that it is the most important initiative aimed at establishing such a regulation.
"An Arms Trade Treaty will aim to create a level playing field for international arms transfers by requiring all States to abide by a set of standards for transfer controls, which will ultimately benefit the safety and security of people everywhere in the world," reads a statement posted on the Conference's website.
In February, the heads of several UN agencies called for a comprehensive arms trade treaty that requires States to assess the risk that serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law may be committed with weapons being transferred.
A call was made for trade in all conventional weapons, including small arms, to be brought under the scope of the new treaty. It was stressed that it cover all types of transfers, including activities such as transit, trans-shipment, as wells as loans and leases, to ensure that there are no loopholes.
According to the UN, an estimated 27.5 million people were internally displaced by the end of 2010 as a result of conflict, with millions more seeking refuge abroad. The world body says that the armed violence that drove them from their homes in most cases was fueled by the widespread availability and misuse of weapons.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com