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Thursday, October 26, 2006

U.S. Votes No On UN Gun Ban

The member states of the United Nations today took a first step toward approving a treaty that could save hundreds of thousands of lives each year by controlling the global arms trade.

Meeting in New York today, the First Committee of the General Assembly voted to study the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding agreement establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. The United States was the only country to vote no on the resolution.

"The world is awash with weapons, including an estimated 640 million firearms, or one gun for every ten people on the planet," said Joe Volk, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation in a statement applauding the U.N. vote. "All too often, weapons fall into the wrong hands and are used against innocent people. Half a million people die each year as a result of the easy availability of small arms and light weapons."

Though almost all arms-exporting states, including the United States, have guidelines that are intended to control international arms transfers, many countries do not apply these guidelines fully or ensure they are respected. As a result, conventional weapons easily and frequently fall into the hands of violent militias and human rights abusers. Irresponsible arms transfers exacerbate violent conflicts, perpetuate poverty and underdevelopment, and contribute to countless violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

"Countries often give priority to profits in the lucrative weapons market over respect for human security," said Joe Volk. "The setting of global standards would ensure that all states follow the same rules when selling weapons."

The United Nations vote today represents an important first step. FCNL and other groups and individuals concerned with the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons will continue to press governments to ensure that a strong treaty comes to fruition.


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