Secretary General Ban and I discussed the encouraging progress that has been made in talks in New York towards agreeing an Arms Trade Treaty.
The UK has led the way in arguing for a treaty to raise standards across the world and to reduce the impact the illicit arms industry has on countless millions of people. Global rules govern the sale of everything from bananas to endangered species to weapons of mass destruction, but not guns or grenades. This anomaly causes untold suffering in conflicts around the world. 1,000 people are killed daily by small arms wielded by terrorists, insurgents and criminal gangs.
We are now in the end-game for a new Treaty. Coalition Ministers have been hitting the phones and our delegation in New York have been working round the clock to push for an ambitious outcome. Today is decision day for all nations in the negotiations but our message is clear: this treaty will have a clear positive impact on regulation of the global arms trade and all states should sign up to it. It is not hyperbolic to describe it as a life and death decision.
The UK has some of the toughest arms exports criteria in the world. This treaty will raise the bar elsewhere in the world. But it is not the end of the story, this is a floor not a ceiling. As soon as the treaty is agreed, the Coalition Government will push for swift implementation and rapid strengthening of its terms. Properly regulated arms will mean less conflict and fewer lives lost. That’s a better, more peaceful world and the UK is proud to lead the way.
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