Amid the headline-grabbing events at the United Nations this week – President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly, the Security Council’s vote on Syria, and the first visit of Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani – another significant event took place without much fanfare.
On Sept. 25, US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty. The landmark treaty establishes the first ever common international standards governing the international trade in conventional arms. It has the potential to make a real difference in reducing the deadly consequences of the irresponsible global arms trade.
As the UN focuses on Syria, where a horrendous civil war has now taken an estimated 110,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million civilians, the need for the treaty – and US support of it – is clear. That conflict has been fueled by ongoing shipments of weapons and ammunition to the Assad regime from Russia and Iran, and weapons shipments to the rebel forces through neighboring countries. Many of these transfers have facilitated attacks on civilians and have likely led to war crimes.
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