By April Warren
By April Warren
Morocco World News
United Nations, New York, July 28, 2012
Despite four weeks of negotiations at United Nations headquarters in New York City, members of the international community have failed to reach enough of a consensus for an international Arms Trade Treaty.
“Our conference has been a sporting event,” said Argentinean Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan, the conference chairman. “We have to compete in the shortest amount of time possible, a series of fixed hurdles, some perhaps a bit too high.”
If adopted, the treaty would have set a common standard to regulate the international trade of conventional arms.
Despite a month-long July negotiation, delegations from 193 states did not receive the first draft of the final treaty until four days before the end of the conference. This allowed for countries that were wary of a treaty from the start to stall negotiations on the basis that they needed more time.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the conclusion of the conference “disappointing.”
“A strong treaty would rid the world of the appalling human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade,” Ban said. “It would also enhance the ability of the United Nations to cope with the proliferation of arms.”
A push for the treaty first started in 2006 as a result of the combined efforts of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Japan, Kenya, Finland and the United Kingdom.
The current text puts forth state-implemented rules that would regulate and control international transfers of conventional arms and would call on states to set, establish and implement a national export control system. The treaty would apply to battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, large-caliber artillery systems, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons. Another area of the treaty also seeks to address ammunition.
This week many delegations voiced concerns over different aspects of the text, which the chairman tried to address by breaking the conference into small groups. But on Friday no breakthroughs were made.
New Zealand voiced concerns with loopholes that existed in the scope section of the text, China voiced concerns with language that allowed for the European Union to join as regional integration organizations to assist the implementation of the treaty and Syria criticized the text for being unbalanced.
The Russian delegation voiced concerns about a lack of barriers or obstacles for deadly weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and armed criminals.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from the United States. The host country had stated its hope for passing a consensus text, but in the final hours raised several concerns, which the delegations described as “issues, which are of substance but not a huge controversy.” This put the American delegation – which some say faltered because the country is facing an election year – in the company of Syria, Russia and Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea among other nations that called for more time before agreeing on a consensus text.
“President Obama should have–but did not–provided the leadership necessary to close the deal on the arms trade treaty and help reduce human suffering caused irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering,” said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
A report of the treaty negotiations will now be delivered to the General Assembly, which delivered the conference’s mandate, and countries will decide how to proceed.
“I think this is a time for people to sit down, think about it and make sure the next steps are the logical steps,” said Roberto Dondisch the head treaty negotiator for Mexico. “I think it’s a little bit early to say today what are the next steps but I can be sure that Mexico will take the next steps. We want a strong Arms Trade Treaty.”
Mexico released a statement along with 90 other countries including the European Union and many African states to remain committed to secure an Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible.