A Project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society

UN to draft treaty on arms trade

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

October 27, 2006

A United Nations committee has voted to begin work on drawing up an international arms trade treaty.

The measure has been approved by an overwhelming majority and aims to stop guns finding their way to existing war zones, despite arms embargoes and export controls.

Only the United States voted against the treaty going ahead.

It wants to rely on existing measures.

The major arms manufacturers, Russia and China, abstained from voting.

Britain's UN ambassador for disarmament, John Duncan, has welcomed the move.

"I think its a great success. We have 139 nations which have said 'yes we want a responsible arms trade' and we're prepared to discuss it," he said.

"There are all sorts of individual initiatives which deal with individual cases, such as small arms and light weapons, but there's nothing dealing with the much wider impact of bigger conventional weapons."

Richard Wilson has been campaigning for the treaty after his sister was shot dead in Burundi six years ago.

"We've got to face up to the reality that the violence in a sense begins here in the developed world, because this is where the guns and the bullets are made," he said.

"I understand that up to 1,000 people are dying every day worldwide because of gun violence.

"So if I imagine the kind of horror that my family has been through and then you multiply that by the number of people who are dying every day, it's just almost unimaginable."

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