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Syria, Iran and North Korea stall agreement of Arms Trade Treaty

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International aid agency Oxfam condemns Syria, Iran and North Korea for blocking agreement today of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would have saved lives and closed the many loopholes that unscrupulous arms dealers now navigate with impunity.

Oxfam, a leading member of the Control Arms Coalition, says the historic treaty is still within reach but that proceedings were delayed today when a handful of skeptical states used their veto power against the huge majority of states that want to see a treaty passed. The United States joined Kenya and 11 other states to call  for the UN General Assembly to adopt the Treaty by vote as soon as possible.

“We are disappointed that North Korea, Syria, and Iran blocked agreement, for at least today, on a treaty that would save millions of people who suffer from armed violence every day,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “Despite their actions, rogue arms dealers and war criminals should not celebrate. The treaty will become a reality when it goes to the UN General Assembly for a vote next week.”

Countries will mostly likely vote next week, when Ambassador Peter Woolcott, president of the Conference, presents his report. It’s widely anticipated the treaty will pass by a majority of states, enshrining in international law for the first time ever, a set of rules to regulate the global arms trade.

“We are determined to ensure this treaty will become a reality – it’s just a matter of time,” said Anna Macdonald, Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control. “We believe the fight for an Arms Trade Treaty is almost over and we are close to the start of a new era. We have a clear message for human rights abusers and gunrunners – your time is nearly up.”

While the United States originally called for the negotiations to occur on the basis of consensus, it has now made clear that it is ready to support the current treaty.

"We applaud the Obama administration for standing on the right side of history and joining with other countries to call for a vote on the treaty at the General Assembly as soon as possible," said Offenheiser."This treaty will save lives and completely ban arms shipments that will be used to commit the horrors of genocide, war crimes, and deliberate attacks on civilians. The world must not rest until it is adopted."

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