UN General Assembly adopts arms trade treaty

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN General Assembly on Tuesday adopted the first-ever treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade that is worth an estimated US$80 billion (S$99 billion) a year.

The assembly voted 154-3 for a resolution that will open the treaty for signature from June. Syria, North Korea and Iran - which had blocked the treaty last week - voted against it. Russia was among the 23 abstentions.

The first major arms accord since the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would cover tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms and light arms.

It would aim to force countries to set up national controls on arms exports. States would also have to assess whether a weapon could be used for genocide, war crimes or by terrorists or organised crime before it is sold.

Every country is free to sign and ratify the treaty, which will take effect after the 50th ratification from among the 193 UN member states, which could take up to two years.