The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve the first-ever treaty to regulate the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking such sales to the human-rights records of the buyers.
The vote on the Arms Trade Treaty came after an attempt to achieve a consensus on the treaty among all 193 member states of the United Nations failed last week, with Iran, Syria and North Korea blocking it. Those three countries, often ostracized as pariahs, contended the treaty was full of deficiencies and had been structured to be unfair to them.
The treaty would require states exporting conventional weapons to develop criteria that would link exports to avoiding human rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime. It would also ban shipments if they were deemed harmful to women and children. Countries that join the treaty would have to report publicly on sales every year, exposing the process to levels of transparency that rights groups hope will severely limit illicit weapons deals.
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