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UNITED NATIONS, September 26 (Itar-Tass) - The number of countries that have signed the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has reached 107. On Wednesday, 17 countries at a time, including Honduras, Zambia, Macedonia, Peru, the United States, Sierra Leone, South Africa, put their signatures to the document at the UN headquarters. The day before, Angola, Ghana, Colombia, Mongolia and the Philippines signed it.
The Secretariat of the United Nations noted that the number of the ATT signatories has exceeded half of the 193 UN member countries. “Today, a number of countries signed the Arms Trade Treaty, pushing the total number of signatures to more than half of all Member States,” UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky said in a statement, noting that the Secretary-General, as depository of a treaty he deems important, welcomes every signature.
“It is of particular significance that the largest arms exporting country in the world, the United States, is now also among those countries who have committed themselves to a global regulation of the arms trade,” the spokesperson stressed.
According to him, the Secretary-General believes that Wednesday’s signings “will contribute to efforts to reduce insecurity and suffering for people on all continents.” “He calls upon other countries to follow suit,” the spokesperson added.
The treaty was adopted by a vote in the 193-member General Assembly on April 3 after the final UN Conference dedicated to the issue failed to garner consensus on a text. The signatures received so far today push the number of signatories to 107, with two more expected.
A total of 154 states voted for the ATT. Iran, North Korea and Syria voted against the treaty. Another 23 countries, including Russia, abstained. To take effect, the ATT should be ratified or acceded to by 50 states. To date, only 8 states have acceded to it. Of the 23 states that have signed the treaty over the past two days, only three countries have ratified it - Costa Rica, Italy and Trinidad and Tobago.
As for the United States, it may not ratify the treaty in the foreseeable future. In early April, it became clear that the ATT was not getting the required for ratification, in accordance with the American Constitution, two-thirds of the vote of the U.S. Senate, comprising 100 members.
The treaty regulates all conventional arms within the categories of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons - from pistols to assault rifles.
A 2011 study commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), entitled “The Global Burden of Armed Violence,” documented that more than half a million people die as a result of armed violence every year, fuelled in many cases by the widespread availability of weapons. Many more suffer horrific injuries and abuses, including rape, while still more are forced from their homes.
The treaty is intended to ensure control over the $70 billion arms market. Separate international conventions are in effect for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the treaty will not do any of the following: interfere with domestic arms commerce or the right to bear arms in Member States; ban the export of any type of weapon; harm States’ legitimate right to self-defense; or undermine national arms regulation standards already in place.