Russia Calls for Flexibility in Arms Trade Control

A future global arms trade treaty should outline general principles for preventing illegal arms trade and should leave it up to national governments to decide on particular ways of their implementation, a senior Russian diplomat said during a United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty under way in New York.

“The document should establish general rules and principles, while their implementation mode will be decided upon by governments proceeding from the specifics of national legislation and existing practice,” Alexander Deineko, the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Department of Security and Disarmament, told the participants in the conference on Friday.

He was speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states. Besides Russia, the group also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“We are interested in adopting a strong and functional document at a result of this conference, which would also be brief, clear and practically useful, based on the highest standards in the sphere of conventional weapons transfer,” the diplomat said.

That means national governments will have to take “concrete practical measures” to increase state control over weapons transfers and prevent illegal trafficking, he said.

The prospective treaty is designed to improve the regulation of the global arms trade, estimated to be worth $60-$70 billion per year, and reduce the 750,000 annual deaths caused by arms-related incidents.  

A future arms trade agreement should be “universal,” which can only be achieved if there is a consensus between United Nations member states, he added.

He stressed that a hoped-for treaty should “take into consideration the legal right of each state to self-defense envisaged in the United Nations Charter and not restrict the rights of countries in the spheres of legal transfer of arms and defense technologies.”

The UN conference will run until late July. Many observers have expressed skepticism over the prospective treaty. Even if adopted, it is unlikely to prove effective, they say, as major arms traders, including Russia and the United States, have no interest in reducing weapons sales.

The United States is the world’s biggest arms trader accounting for over 40 percent of global conventional arms transfers, with $28.76-billion annual revenues, according to the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) think tank.

Russia occupied the second position for world arms sales in 2011, according to CAWAT. The country’s annual arms exports doubled over six years from $6 billion in 2005 to over $13 billion in 2011, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Putin said Russia was planning to increase its revenues from arms sales by another $0.5 billion in 2012.


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