UN rights expert hails Arms Trade Treaty

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The poorly regulated trade in arms has adverse humanitarian, human rights and development consequences. Photo: OCHA/ Jihan El Alaily

"The world needs to stop not only the trade but the production of arms, since once weapons have been produced, there is an incentive to use them and to continue producing them".

So says the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas. He says "Those who sell or facilitate weapons to individuals that will commit human rights violations know that they have responsibility for the death and misery caused by those weapons and at some stage may be liable to face the International Criminal Court for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity".

Mr. Zayas said the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is a significant first step with the potential to reduce "the appalling human cost of the trade in conventional weapons and the conflicts they fuel. He said that undoubtedly, this treaty constitutes an historic moment toward the goal of meaningful disarmament and the reduction of hostilities".

"However", the expert said, "The treaty is not perfect, since numerous ambiguities remain in the text which could end up favoring the arms industry," adding that nothing in the treaty prohibits selling weapons to non-state entities. Mr. Zayas said "More reflection is needed and a subsequent agreement should address outstanding issues that were left out in the final compromise.

The new treaty prohibits states from exporting conventional weapons to countries when they know those weapons will be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’22″

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