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“Time is ripe for a robust international legal framework to limit and regulate the arms trade” – UN Expert

GENEVA (27 July 2012) – States that are currently negotiating the first legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty must make the most of this opportunity to limit and regulate the arms trade in a way that prevents grave human rights violations, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr. Alfred de Zayas, urged on Friday.

“The time is ripe for a robust and enforceable international treaty to limit and regulate the arms trade. World peace is threatened not only by weapons of mass destruction but also by conventional weapons which have led to countless violations of human rights, including the rights to life and to physical integrity. A strong treaty can contribute greatly to international and regional peace, security and stability.”

Mr. de Zayas welcomed efforts by States to agree on globally binding rules to control the arms trade. He noted that the instrument must be guided by the rights and obligations of States under applicable international norms, including human rights law. He also noted the significance of the treaty’s goal to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and the diversion of arms to unauthorized end users.

He emphasized that there was much room for improvement in the current text.

“At the moment, the draft text leaves too much flexibility for States when authorising an arms sale. States must exert all efforts to ensure that arms, as well as ammunition, are not transferred – whereas the current draft only refers to exportation – to countries where there is a substantial risk that they will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” the UN expert said.

“Arms frequently end up in the hands of individuals who use them against civilians in conflict situations, and then continue to use them after the conflict. States must take appropriate measures to ensure that the treaty recognises that the proliferation of arms and ammunition increases the likelihood of violence against groups at risk including women and girls,” Mr. de Zayas added, aligning himself with the statement made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in this regard.*

“An important challenge remains the responsibility and accountability to monitor the implementation of this instrument. The ultimate goal must be to significantly reduce the production of arms, which is wasteful of resources and continues to fuel armed conflict throughout the world. As long as arms production and trade persist, wars will follow and frustrate humanity’s aspirations to the realisation of the human right to peace,” Mr. de Zayas concluded.


* The Statement by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women can be found on:http://www-stage.lan.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/Statements.aspx

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