Iran, N Korea and Syria block UN arms treaty

Move prevents adoption of first-ever international treaty to regulate the $70bn global conventional weapons trade.

Iran, North Korea and Syria have blocked adoption of a UN treaty that would regulate the multibillion-dollar international arms trade which required agreement by all 193 UN member states.

“There is no consensus for the adoption of this text,” Peter Woolcott, Australian Ambassador and the meeting chair, said on Thursday after the three countries confirmed their opposition following last-ditch talks to save the UN-brokered accord.

Earlier Woolcott suspended the UN meeting after Iran, North Korea, and Syria raised their nameplates refusing to join consensus following speeches outlining their objections to the treaty.

Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the arms treaty convention in New York, said Woolcott would write a report on what happened and is likely to include the text of this resolution to the UN General Assembly, who can then vote on it on a simple majority.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said the draft treaty has major loopholes, is “hugely susceptible to politicisation and discrimination”, and ignores the “legitimate demand” to prohibit the transfer of arms to those who commit aggression.

“How can we reduce human suffering by turning a blind eye to aggression that costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of people?” he asked.

Supporters of the treaty said that if the treaty was not adopted they would go to the General Assembly and put the draft to a vote where they expect overwhelming approval.

The world body received the last revision of the draft treaty ahead of the final day of the drafting conference on Thursday.

“Campaigners say there is a lot of good in this treaty, but its not as tough as they would have liked it to be,” Bays said.


“In the treaty there are all sorts of loopholes. All sorts of things that are not covered like some types of helicopters, drones, handgrenades.”

UN member states began meeting last week in a final push to end years of discussions and hammer out a binding international treaty to end the lack of regulation over cross-border conventional arms sales.

Iran, currently under a UN arms embargo over its nuclear programme, is eager to ensure its arms imports and exports are not curtailed, European diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

Syria is in a two-year-old civil war and hopes Russian and Iranian arms keep flowing in, they added. But they are all under pressure to back the draft, envoys said.

“We are continuing to review the text with an eye toward ensuring that it accomplishes all of our goals, including that
it protect the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade and, of course, that it not infringe upon the
constitutional right of our citizens to bear arms,” a US representative told Reuters.

The National Rifle Association, a powerful US pro-gun lobbying group, opposes the treaty and has vowed to fight to prevent its ratification if it reaches Washington. The NRA says the treaty would undermine domestic gun-ownership rights.

The American Bar Association, an attorneys’ lobby group, has said that the treaty would not impact the right to bear arms.

Ambassador Joanne Adamson, chief British delegate, said the new draft treaty has many improvements over earlier drafts.

“These [improvements] include inclusion of ammunition in the scope of the treaty, a new article on preventing diversion of arms, and strengthened section on exports which are prohibited,” she said. “Human rights are at the heart of this text.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies