Ireland signs UN Treaty to regulate arms trade

Landmark move bans sale of conventional weapons to commit human rights atrocities

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Joe Costello is pictured signing the Treaty. Also in the picture are UN under secretary general for legal affairs, Patricia O’Brien and UN high representative for disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane. Photograph: Department of Foreign Affairs

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Joe Costello is pictured signing the Treaty. Also in the picture are UN under secretary general for legal affairs, Patricia O’Brien and UN high representative for disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane. Photograph: Department of Foreign Affairs

 

Ireland has become one of the first States to sign a landmark treaty to regulate the trade in conventional weapons today.

Signing of the internationally binding Arms Trade Treaty began at the United Nations Headquarters in New York this afternoon.

The Treaty, adopted by the UN in April after years of negotiations, prohibits signatory states from exporting weapons to countries if they know they will be used to commit human rights atrocities. Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Joe Costello is signing the agreement for Ireland today.

Mr Costello ledged Ireland’s support for its implementation and described the Treaty as ‘’historic’’ and “a milestone in global arms control”.

Mr Costello said the “strong, robust and comprehensive instrument” would “reduce human suffering and save lives” when fully implemented. He paid tribute to the role played by NGO activists in supporting the Treaty.

The move was welcomed by Amnesty International Ireland which praised the Government’s role in negotiations and urged it to quickly ratify the Treaty.

“In signing today, Ireland is to be commended for again leading the charge in trying to stop arms ending up in the hands of war criminals and human rights abusers. We hope Ireland will move quickly to ratifying, setting an example to other states.”, Colm O’Gorman executive director of Amnesty International Ireland said.

Mr O’Gorman said the Treaty could “ stem the flow of conventional arms and munitions that fuel war crimes and human rights abuses”. The signing ceremony was “another step to getting control of the US $70 billion global trade in conventional weapons”, he said.

It will prohibit conventional weapons being transferred to states where it is known they will be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Among the weapons regulated will be battle tanks, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships and small arms and light weapons.

Among the top arms exporters due to sign are the UK, German and France with the US expected to sign later this year. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after ratification by 50 states.

The United States, the world’s number one arms exporter, will sign the treaty as soon as all the official UN translations of the document are completed, US. secretary of state John Kerry said in a statement. The National Rifle Association, a powerful US pro-gun lobbying group that opposed the treaty from the start, criticised the US delegation in April for being among the 154 U.N. member states that voted in favor of the pact. The NRA has vowed to fight to prevent the treaty’s ratification by the US Senate when it reaches Washington.

The treaty “will not undermine the legitimate international trade in conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe on the rights of American citizens,” Mr Kerry said. Russia, China, India and 20 other countries abstained from the April 2nd vote.

Additional reporting Reuters