153 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 19 abstained and 1 voted against.
Today, after years of discussions and debates, the United Nations agreed a timetable to establish a 'strong and robust' Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the 'highest common standards' to control international transfers of conventional arms.
There is currently no global regulation of the arms trade. In a major reversal of policy, the US - the world's biggest arms trader - voted in favour of the resolution. Russia and China abstained; Zimbabwe was the only vote against. As a result of the vote, the conference to finalise the Treaty is now scheduled for July 2012.
"This is great news," said Rebecca Peters, Director of IANSA. "For too long, the world has been complacent about the devastating effect of the unregulated flow of arms."
"All countries participate in the conventional arms trade and share responsibility for the 'collateral damage' it produces- widespread death, injuries and human rights abuses," said Ms Peters. "Finally, governments have agreed to negotiate legal controls on this deadly trade."
"This is a tribute to the hard work done by campaigners around the world. Now we must build on this breakthrough and make sure a strong and effective treaty is agreed in 2012."
Today's agreement means that the ATT will be negotiated in a series of meetings concluded at a UN Conference in 2012. The resulting treaty is expected to require States to strictly regulate international transfers according to principles based on international law, significantly reducing the human cost associated with the proliferation of conventional arms.
The resolution on the ATT recognises that international arms transfers contribute to armed conflict, displacement of people, organised crime and terrorist acts, thereby undermining peace, safety, security and sustainable development.
Campaigners expressed reservations about the procedure planned for the UN Conference which could give every State the right of veto. "it is vital that governments keep up the pressure for a strong treaty, and do not allow a minority of States to block the process," said Ms Peters.
153 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 19 abstained and 1 voted against. A list showing how each country voted is available here.
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