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United Nation Approved New Debate on Arm Treaty opposed by U.S. Gun Lobby

International/World Current Affairs 2012.The U.N. General Assembly on 24 December 2012 voted overpoweringly to restart negotiations on a draft international treaty to regulate the 70 billion dollar global trade in conventional arms, a pact the powerful U.S. National Rifle Association has been lobbying hard against...

Dec 26, 2012 15:33 IST

The U.N. General Assembly on 24 December 2012 voted overpoweringly to restart negotiations on a draft international treaty to regulate the 70 billion dollar global trade in conventional arms, a pact the powerful U.S. National Rifle Association has been lobbying hard against.

U.N. delegates and gun control activists have complained that earlier in July 2012 talks collapsed largely because U.S. President Barack Obama feared attacks from Republican rival Mitt Romney before the 6 November 2012 election if his administration was seen as supporting the pact, charge U.S. officials have denied.

But after Obama's re-election in November 2012, his administration joined other members of a U.N. committee in supporting the resumption of negotiations on the treaty.

On 24 December 2012 the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly voted to hold a final round of negotiations on March 18-28 in New York.

The foreign ministers of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom - the countries that drafted the resolution - issued a joint statement welcoming the decision to resume negotiations on the pact.

There were 133 votes in favour, none against and 17 abstentions. A number of countries did not attend, which U.N. diplomats said was due to the Christmas Eve holiday.

Among the top six arms-exporting nations, Russia cast the only abstention in last month's vote. Britain, France and Germany joined China and the United States in the disarmament committee in support of the same resolution approved by the General Assembly.

The main reason the arms trade talks are taking place at all is that the United States - the world's biggest arms trader, which accounts for more than 40 percent of global transfers in conventional arms - reversed U.S. policy on the issue after Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support a treaty.

Obama administration officials have tried to explain to U.S. opponents of the arms trade pact that the treaty under discussion would have no effect on gun sales and ownership inside the United States because it would apply only to exports.

About Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty is the name of a potential multilateral treaty that would regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. The treaty was negotiated at a global conference under the support of the United Nations from 2 July –27 July 2012 in New York.

Arms Trade Treaty is part of a larger universal effort that began in 2001 with the adoption of a non-legally binding program of action at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in 2001. This program was formally called the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA).