Describing it as a “setback,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his disappointment over the failure by United Nations Member States to reach agreement on a treaty that would regulate the conventional arms trade.
“I am disappointed that the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) concluded its four-week-long session without agreement on a treaty text that would have set common standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms,” Ban said. “The Conference’s inability to conclude its work on this much-awaited ATT, despite years of effort of Member States and civil society from many countries, is a setback,” he added.
Ending on Friday without agreement, the four-week long Conference brought together the UN’s 193 Member States to negotiate what is seen as the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation within the United Nations. According to media reports, some countries had indicated they needed more time to consider the issues.
Despite the lack of agreement, in his statement, Ban said that he was encouraged that the ATT process was not over, with States having agreed to continue pursuing “this noble goal.”
“There is already considerable common ground and States can build on the hard work that has been done during these negotiations,” Ban said, while also noting that his commitment to the pursuit of “a robust ATT is steadfast.”
“A strong treaty would rid the world of the appalling human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade,” the Secretary-General said. “It would also enhance the ability of the United Nations to cope with the proliferation of arms.”
At the end of 2010, an estimated 27.5 million people were internally displaced as a result of conflict, while millions more have sought refuge abroad. In many cases, the armed violence that drove them from their homes was fuelled by the widespread availability and misuse of weapons.
In his statement, the UN chief also commended the President of the ATT Conference, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritán of Argentina, for his persistence and skilful leadership of the process.
In February, the heads of several UN agencies – including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – 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; includes within its scope all conventional weapons, including small arms; and ensures that there are no loopholes by covering all types of transfers, including activities such as transit, trans-shipment, as wells as loans and leases.