July 03, 2012
Delegates from around the world gathered in New York on Monday for the start of month-long U.N.-hosted negotiations to hammer out the first binding treaty to regulate the global weapons market, valued at more than $60 billion a year.
But in a foreshadowing of the kinds of difficulties that may dog the July 2-27 negotiations, a dispute over the status of the Palestinian delegation delayed the official start of the talks, U.N. diplomats said.
Arms conrol campaigners say one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence around the world and that a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities.
Most U.N. member states favor a strong treaty.
If they get their way, all signatories would be charged with enforcing compliance to any treaty by companies that produce arms and with taking steps to prevent rogue dealers from operating within their borders.
They say conflicts in Syria and elsewhere cast a shadow over the talks, reminding delegates of the urgency of the situation.
“In Syria, Sudan and the Great Lakes of Africa, the world is now once again bearing witness to the horrific human cost of the reckless and overly secret arms trade,” said Brian Wood, international arms control and human rights manager at Amnesty International.
“Why should millions more people be killed and lives devastated before leaders wake up and take decisive action to properly control international arms transfers?” he said.
There is no guarantee the July 2-27 negotiations will produce a treaty, let alone a good one. In February, preparatory talks on the ground rules for this month’s talks nearly collapsed due to procedural wrangling and other disagreements.