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Latvia signs United Nations arms trade treaty

By Anatol Steven. 04.06.2013

Degraded weapons pile
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Latvia signs up to UN efforts to control sale of conventional weapons

Latvia has signed up to the United Nations’ latest efforts to control the global sale of conventional weapons. Normans Penke, the country’s permanent representative to the UN in New York, has signed the Arms Trade Treaty.

Emerging yesterday for countries around the world to sign following seven years of work, the treaty lays down comprehensive and uniform standards in the international trade in conventional arms – weapons that are not nuclear, chemical or biological.

The treaty stipulates that nations must comply with international humanitarian law and human rights by not authorizing the export of arms if they could be used in acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

On June 3, the Arms Trade Treaty was signed by the first 67 UN member states. For it to enter into force, it must be ratified by 50 countries.

The treaty was first negotiated at a global UN conference in New York in July 2012. As it was not possible to reach agreement on a final text at that time, a new meeting was scheduled for March this year, and on 2 April 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted the treaty. 

The ATT, as it is known, was adopted by the assembly in a 154-to-3 vote with 23 abstentions. North Korea, Iran and Syria voted in opposition. China and Russia, known to be two of the world's leaders in weapon exports, were among the 23 nations that abstained, together with Cuba, India, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Armenia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Vietnam did not vote.

[pictured: Degraded weaponry due to be destroyed in Afghanistan; photo courtesy U.S. Air Force]




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