It’s been many years in the making, but the very first benchmark international treaty outlining rules for the arms trade has finally been passed.
At stake is the tighter control of conventional arms and weapons, which it is hoped will make it more difficult for human rights abusers to lay their hands on them.
The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour. Only Syria, North Korea and Iran voted “No”. Iran and North Korea are currently under an arms embargo on account of their nuclear programmes. Syria relies on arms from Russia and Iran.
China and Russia, which are both major arms producers, both abstained. The U.S. is the world’s biggest arms exporter, but voted in favour, despite fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association.
The treaty is seen as a feather in the cap of U.S. President Barack Obama, who decided to get behind it when elected back in 2009.