A United Nations conference aimed at creating a global, binding treaty to regulate the arms trade has ended without agreement. The UN secretary general has described the failure as a "setback", but said hopes remain that nations will continue to push for and eventually create a document to regulate arms sales.
The failure to reach agreement before the end of the conference is being blamed on the United States, which insisted on July 27 that it needed more time to consider the treaty before it would agree to it. Russia and China also asked for more time, and the US says it does not now expect to resume treaty discussions until 2013.
"More time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue," said US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "The current text reflects considerable positive progress, but it needs further review and refinement."
She added: "The United States took a principled stand throughout these negotiations that international trade in conventional arms is a legitimate enterprise that is and should remain regulated by the individual nations themselves, and we continue to believe that any Arms Trade Treaty should require states to develop their own national regulations and controls and strengthen the rule of law regarding arms sales."
Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Associated Press
that the move was "stunning cowardice" by President Barack Obama's administration ahead of presidential elections in November. "It's a staggering abdication of leadership by the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing a historic breakthrough," she said.
The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that there was "considerable common ground" and that the will to create a treaty remained "steadfast". He added: "A strong treaty would rid the world of the appalling human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade. It would also enhance the ability of the United Nations to cope with the proliferation of arms."
United Kingdom foreign secretary William Hague said: "This is not the result we wanted. But we have made huge progress. The chair's draft treaty has our full support as well as that of the great majority of other states. But to be fully effective, the treaty will need very broad – ideally universal – participation. It is clear that more time is needed to reach the widest possible agreement.
"We now need to maintain the momentum and to complete this crucial work as soon as possible, taking the issue to the UN general assembly. An Arms Trade Treaty is coming. It will not be this week but we will succeed. When we do, the world will be a safer place."This article was first published by PublicServiceEurope.com's sister site defencemanagement.com as UN arms treaty talks end in failure