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Articles by Foreign Ministry staff in the media, 3/15/2013

Do not miss this chance for a global arms trade treaty

By Mr Enrique Castillo Barrantes, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica; Mr Héctor Timerman, Foreign Minister of Argentina and Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Foreign Minister of
Finland

Sir, Conventional arms are the weapons of mass destruction today. They kill innocent civilians every day in conflicts around the world, yet there is no international law to regulate their proliferation. In 2006, Costa Rica, Argentina and Finland together with Australia, Japan, Kenya and the UK called on the United Nations to address the irresponsible trade in conventional arms. It was not, however, until 2009 that the international community was prepared to start negotiations on the arms trade treaty.

The UN General Assembly convened a conference in July 2012, where delegations came very close to agreeing on a legally binding treaty. Yet the conference could not achieve consensus. We took swift action following the conference to keep negotiations alive. Our determination bore fruit and, in December 2012, an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly voted in favour of the final conference on the arms trade treaty. No country voted against.

We must now turn this strong support for continued negotiations into support for a strong treaty. The delegations will convene in New York next week for the March 2013 conference. This conference will be the final one. The pressure will be on the delegations to achieve a treaty that is long overdue.

We do not seek to belittle the problems our fellow countries have identified in the text. We need good political will and compromise to solve the problems and to make the treaty effective. Otherwise it will be a dead letter, followed by many innocent dead people as a result of inaction by the international community.

A successful conclusion of the March conference will be an important achievement for the world and for the UN. To make our vision a reality, the treaty must also assist those countries struggling with its implementation.

The biggest achievement of all would be the lessening of human suffering. People die as a result of arms trading and illicit trafficking every day. Acts of armed violence and other human rights violations resulting from the trade in arms are innumerable.
We remain hopeful and confident that political will and determination will prevail next week. We and other co-authors will continue to be committed to this process and to the arms trade treaty.

The article was originally published in Financial Times on 15 March 2013.

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Updated 3/18/2015

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