Delegates from dozens of countries gathered in New York yesterday and signed the first treaty for the regulation of the $70-billion global conventional arms trade. The US, however kept out of the treaty.
On 2 April, the 193-nation UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the UN Arms Trade Treaty that aimed to keep weapons out of reach of human rights abusers and criminals.
Hector Timerman, foreign minister of Argentina was the first to sign, opening the ceremony at UN headquarters yesterday. A large round of applause followed his signing the document.
According to the UN, 62 countries from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa signed the treaty in last morning.
According to UN high representative for disarmament affairs Angela Kane, who spoke to reporters, several more states were likely to sign up over the coming days, taking the initial tally to roughly 66.
The US, the world's No 1 arms exporter, would sign the treaty as soon as all the official UN translations of the document were completed, US secretary of state John Kerry said in a statement.
Anna Macdonald of the humanitarian group Oxfam said, the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty gave hope to millions affected by arms violence every day. She added, the devastating humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Syria underlined just how urgently regulation of the arms trade was needed.
According to commentators, the absence of the world's top arms dealer at the ceremony cast a shadow over a decades-long push to stop illegal cross-border shipments of conventional weapons. Among the nations that signed were some of the world's most violence-scarred nations, from drug-plagued Mexico to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
The first international treaty regulating the global arms trade would not be able muster the number of votes for approval by the US Senate, and the influential National Rifle Association, which said it had over 4.5 million members, who had lobbied against it, according to commentators.
While according to supporters, the treaty would not affect US domestic sales or impinge on the constitutional right to bear arms, it would pose political minefield at home.
as the accord would not muster enough votes for approval by the US Senate.
Following years of stalled discussions about a multilateral arms sales agreement, it was not until Obama took office in 2009 that the US reversed long-standing opposition to a treaty.