[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 11:01 GMT
UN assembly backs arms trade deal
A 14-year-old soldier is taught how to use a gun in Sierra Leone (file image)
Campaigners want to reduce the flow of arms to conflict zones
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution to begin work on a global treaty to control the trade in small arms.

Only the United States voted against the plan, which calls on the UN chief to report within a year on the feasibility of such an accord.

Experts hope a treaty could control the flow of arms into conflict zones.

But the US argues that any global standard would be less restrictive than current US law.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the non-binding resolution represented "the first formal step towards developing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons".

Under the resolution, incoming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was asked to seek members' views on the feasibility and scope of an agreement, and to establish an expert body to begin looking at a potential treaty in 2008.

Campaigners are seeking a treaty which would force countries to officially authorise all arms deals and prevent sales to governments likely to use the weapons to commit human rights abuses.

A group of 14 US senators had urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to back the deal, arguing that a global standard was needed to complement regional and national initiatives.

But a US official said that America opposed the move "in order to maintain our higher standards".

Campaigners welcomed the vote, with Director of Oxfam International Jeremy Hobbs calling it a "historic step".

"Now governments must follow through and achieve a strong, effective treaty," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

UN initiates arms trade agreement
27 Oct 06 |  Americas
DR Congo arms embargo 'failing'
16 Oct 06 |  Africa
Arms traders 'dodging embargoes'
02 Oct 06 |  Special Reports
Controlling the arms trade
18 Jun 06 |  The Westminster Hour
Annan warns of 'violence culture'
26 Jun 06 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific