This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Today the United Nations General Assembly approved the Arms Trade Treaty with 154 votes in favour, 3 votes against and 23 abstentions.
Commenting on the agreement the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:
This is an historic day and a major achievement for the United Nations. The world at last has a robust and legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty.
Last week, I was one of many who expressed disappointment that agreement on the Treaty had been blocked by Iran, Syria and the DPRK. But I am delighted that today their cynical actions have been successfully overcome by an overwhelming majority in the United Nations General Assembly. The world wanted this Treaty and would not be thwarted by the few who sought to prevent the introduction of robust, effective and legally-binding controls on the international trade in weapons.
This Treaty will save lives and make the world a safer place. It will require governments to block transfers of weapons that pose unacceptable risks and to take strong steps to prevent weapons being diverted into the illegal market. Authorisations of exports will be reported and arms brokering regulated. At the same time, the legitimate trade in arms, vital for national defence and security, will be upheld.
Achieving agreement among the international community has been a long, challenging process. To have the impact on the ground which we all want to see, the treaty needed to have both strong provisions as well as broad support, particularly from the major arms exporters. This has been secured.
I send my warmest congratulations to all those involved in the negotiations, including our close partners in civil society, who have campaigned for this Treaty for years.
I am proud of the role that the UK has played. We will now focus on ensuring the treaty is fully and speedily implemented.