The U.N. General Assembly voted Monday to begin work on an international arms trade treaty to prevent weapons from reaching conflict zones and developing countries. A resolution condemning “the absence of international, common norms for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms” received the support of 137 countries, with only the United States voting against it; 28 countries abstained.
The approval of the resolution drew words of praise from the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, created by Costa Rican President and longtime armscontrol advocate Oscar Arias, as well as from Casa Presidencial.
“With its vote, the United Nations recognizes the efforts of our founder, Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, who since May 1997 has proposed an initiative to regulate the trade of arms, which is out of control,” said a statement from the Arias Foundation.
The resolution gives the U.N. Secretary General one year to produce a report on how to introduce international arms trade norms, according to the BBC – which also reported that while an actual arms trade treaty could be years away, the resolution marks a first step toward that end result.
Major arms manufacturers Russia and China abstained from the vote. However, other top arms manufacturers, including France, Germany, and Britain, as well as emerging arms exporters Bulgaria and Ukraine, were among the 137 supporters, according to the BBC.
Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1987 for his role in the Central American Peace Plan, addressed the General Assembly Sept. 19, urging members to support armscontrol measures. He also asked for support for his proposal, dubbed the Costa Rica Consensus, to restructure aid from developed countries to developing countries to take into account not only countries’ need, but also their spending habits. Countries that reduce their military spending would be rewarded (TT, Sept. 22).
The proposed arms trade treaty would prohibit arms sales to countries that violate human rights and require states to consider the likely use of arms before authorizing an arms transfer, among other controls.