Arms Trade Treaty approved

Media release

3 April 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today welcomed the success of the Australian campaign for an Arms Trade Treaty to crack down on the global illicit arms trade, with the Treaty passing the UN General Assembly by 154 votes to 3.

The Treaty imposes new controls on illicit cross-border dealings in weapons such as attack helicopters, missile launchers, automatic rifles, hand guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Australia was one of the 7 original co-authors who sponsored the first UN General Assembly resolution in 2006.

Speaking from Jakarta, Senator Carr said Australia’s efforts would now go towards securing the 50 ratifications necessary to bring the Treaty into force worldwide.

“Australia’s message is that it’s time for action on global arms control,” Senator Carr said.

“Today we’ve secured a comprehensive agreement on arms control — enforceable through public reporting to the UN and aimed at reducing the continued flow of conventional weapons to rogue groups and terrorists.

“The Treaty will be open for signature on June 3 2013. Australia will be one of the first to sign. Our diplomats have been instructed to make every effort to secure the additional signatories.

“Each day there are around 2,000 deaths in conflicts fuelled by illegally traded arms. Yet as Amnesty International points out, global trade in some foods is more strictly regulated than trade in weapons.

“Countries heavily affected by illegal weapons trades — in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean — have welcomed our vigorous role in securing this UN Treaty and cracking down on illegal arms.

“We’ll now renew our efforts to bring this Treaty into force as soon as possible.”

Senator Carr said Australia would also provide $1 million to initiate a multilateral assistance fund to help developing countries implement the Treaty.

The funds would support measures such as national legislation, setting up export control agencies and building expertise in assessing and enforcing arms controls.

There are an estimated 875 million small arms in circulation worldwide. Illicit arms trading in conventional weaponry is estimated at around $1 billion per year.

The Arms Trade Treaty sets up a global reporting system for international arms sales, to prevent the flow of weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups. It does not affect domestic arms sales.

The Treaty also requires states to consider the risk of arms transfers facilitating serious acts of violence against women and children, before allowing those transfers to proceed.

The Treaty was opposed by North Korea, Syria and Iran.

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