The landmark Arms Trade Treaty, designed to control the trade in deadly weapons that fuel armed conflict around the world, will become international law before the end of the year, with seven countries expected to ratify the international agreement at the United Nations, in New York today.
The ratifications will trigger a 90-day countdown until the agreement becomes international law, which means the Arms Trade Treaty will be in force by December.
Oxfam Australia Humanitarian Advocacy Lead Stephanie cousins welcomed the final ratifications as a timely development.
“The Arms Trade Treaty is the first global agreement to regulate the $85bn annual trade in arms and ammunition which is fuelling conflict around the world.”
“With the growing number of conflicts in places like Iraq, Syria and South Sudan, this is an important step towards bringing the international arms trade under control”, Ms Cousins said.
“Every day, up to 2000 people are killed by armed violence and millions more live in fear of rape, assault and displacement caused by weapons getting into the wrong hands. Figures released by the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR showed more than 50 million people around the world have been uprooted by violent conflict in 2013 alone.”
“As United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has recognised, this treaty has opened a door of hope to millions of women, men and children who live in deprivation and fear because of the poorly controlled international arms trade and the proliferation of deadly weapons.”
Ratification is required from a minimum 50 states for the treaty to become binding international law. States due to join the 45 countries, already ratified include Argentina, St Lucia, Portugal, Senegal and Uruguay, The Czech Republic and The Bahamas.
Ms Cousins said once the treaty enters into force, the next major challenge will be to ensure that it is implemented robustly.
“Australia should be commended for being among the first 50 states to ratify this agreement, which is one of the fastest international agreements to move towards entry into force,” Ms Cousins said.
“The onus is now on the government to ensure that the treaty is upheld, by sending a clear message to arms traders that irresponsible arms deals will not be tolerated.”
The ratifications come as scrutiny intensifies on the sources of weapons being used in conflicts around the globe, including South Sudan, Syria, and Iraq.
Under the Arms Trade Treaty, states must assess the risks of weapons and ammunition being misused to commit human rights abuses or violations of humanitarian law, before they can authorize transfer.
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