Global Arms Trade Treaty Too Vague

MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) – The first international treaty establishing rules for cross-border conventional arms trade lacks practical aspects, Russian Foreign Ministry Security and Disarmament Department Director Mikhail Ulyanov said.

Uliyanov, who headed the Russian delegation at the recent negotiations at the UN headquarters in New York, said in an interview with the Kommersant daily published on Thursday that Russia abstained during Tuesday’s General Assembly vote on the document, because it “declares good targets but is rather shallow in essence.”

“It contains many slogans, but lacks specificity. Its objectives are laid down only in general terms, and the treaty does not clarify how they should be put into practice,” the Russian diplomat said.

He added that Russia’s proposal to include into the treaty a ban on arms sales to unauthorized non-state entities was rejected.

The resolution containing the text of the treaty was approved by 154 “yes” votes on Tuesday with the simple majority of 97 votes in favor needed to pass the text. Iran, Syria and North Korea voted against, while 23 countries, including Russia, abstained.

The document 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.

It applies to all conventional arms, including not only small arms and light weapons, but also battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers.

Many observers have expressed skepticism over the treaty before the vote. Even if adopted, it is unlikely to prove effective, they said, as major arms traders, including the United States and Russia, have no interest in reducing weapons sales.


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