2 April 2013 - General Assembly - Arms Trade Treaty - Explanation of vote by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
This is a historic moment. We have just adopted a landmark text. The United Nations has provided an appropriate response to a global security challenge in an especially sensitive area that lies at the heart of states’ sovereignty.
This success first of all relates to the negotiating conference that took place over the last two weeks. Indeed, the conference resulted in a consensus between all states, with the sole exception of those who are already in violation of their international obligations. This might not be, in the legal sense, a full consensus, but it is a demonstration of political unity. The UN has proved that it is capable of the effective multilateralism that we’re calling for.
We have just provided the international community with an ambitious treaty to regulate the arms trade. This treaty will make it possible to strengthen peace and international security. It places international humanitarian law and international human rights law at the heart of the criteria that the States Parties undertake to respect. It will make it possible to effectively combat the illicit spread of conventional weapons around the world, and therefore to combat terrorist groups and organized crime.
This negotiation presented numerous challenges. The compromises that were reached never sacrificed anything critical in order to achieve a robust treaty. I’m thinking in particular of the scope of equipment and activities covered, the nature of the criteria, the transparency-related stipulations, those specifically aimed at combating the diversion of arms and corruption, and the concerns relating to the transit, transshipment, and brokerage of arms.
It was also important to find a balance between the exporters and importers. The concerns relating to the predictability of contracts and cooperation agreements in the area of defense are understandable.
Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) cause the most casualties around the world. It was therefore essential that they be covered by the treaty, along with the export of ammunition for these weapons. That is the case. Of course, this issue mobilized the countries most affected by the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons. In this respect I welcome the commitment of our African colleagues and civil society.
Lastly, Mr. President, France would like to pay tribute to President Peter Woolcott and to his predecessor, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan, who guided the work of the two successive conferences. We must therefore honor their commitment by adopting an effective treaty now and ensuring its success.
Learn more about the Arms Trade Treaty.