San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias Celebrates U.S. Support for Arms Treaty

President Oscar Arias is viewing the United States’ interest in an arms trade treaty as one more trophy to hang on his wall.

The disarmament advocate celebrated a recent statement made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the statement, Clinton announced that the U.S. is commited to the establishment of international standards for arms trading.

Arias said the U.S. interest is “encouraging” because it represents a “radical” change from previously held positions. But it is also significant because the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of conventional weapons.

In the statement issued Wednesday, Clinton said, “The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons.”

But she placed a condition on U.S. support, saying that “consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the treaty and to avoid loopholes in the treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.”

With U.S. participation under the leadership of U.S. President Barack Obama, who recently won a Nobel Peace Prize, Arias said an arms treaty will gain significant momentum toward adoption.

Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient himself, began an initiative to regulate the arms trade in 1997 through the Arias Foundation for Peace. In 2005, under the leadership of Costa Rica and with the support of Argentina, Australia, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom, the United Nations initiated discussions on a binding treaty addressing the arms trade.

In front of the U.N. General Assembly in September, Arias called on countries “to approve the Arms Trade Treaty … because if it is legitimate for us to worry about the possibility that terrorist networks have access to nuclear weapons, it is also legitimate for us to worry about the rifles, grenades and machine guns that gave (terrorists) their power.”

–Chrissie Long


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