The United Nations Office for Disarmament is in the last stages of negotiations that began on Monday to finalize what leaders expect to become the first international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade. The group of nations involved in creating the treaty document at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York City are expected to complete this phase by Thursday, according to U.N. officials.
The latest draft of the small arms treaty was promulgated to the nations participating in the Manhattan conference last Friday, which some groups criticized as disappointing.
The main reason the arms trade talks are taking place at all is that the United States — the world’s biggest arms trader — reversed U.S. policy on the issue after President Barack Obama was elected and decided in 2009 to support a treaty as did his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Supporters of the arms trade treaty believe it’s important to “set standards for all cross-border transfers of any type of conventional weapon — light and heavy,” according to the U.N. statement.
The treaty would also initiate requirements for nations to review all cross-border arms contracts to ensure that the munitions will not be used for terrorism, transnational organized crime, and human rights abuses. The binding treaty will stipulate that governments must refuse to export weapons to countries that would likely use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.
The current draft treaty says that the following weapon types will be covered battle tanks; armored combat vehicles; large-caliber artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships; missiles and missile launchers; small arms and light weapons, ranging from assault rifles to handguns.
A previous draft said those were the weapons covered by the treaty “at a minimum.” Rights groups complained that the new draft has narrowed the scope of the treaty. It would not cover unconventional weapons like nuclear, chemical and…