UK Pushes for Worldwide Arms Trade Treaty

 - September 17, 2007, 5:55 AM

The UK government is leading a diplomatic effort to craft an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), but has reassured the defense industry that “responsible” exports will not be limited by the proposed worldwide pact. John Duncan, the British Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control, met industrialists at a defense exhibition in London last week. He told them that the ATT would cover exports of everything from small arms to big defense systems. But, he added, “You should see it as an opportunity, not a threat. It will level the playing field, as well as reduce global instability.” More than 150 countries voted in the United Nations last December to start work on an international ATT, and an “unprecedented” 97 of them, Duncan said, have since sent detailed responses to a consultation launched by the UN Secretary-General. Early next year “government experts” will begin detailed drafting work on the treaty. Duncan urged the defense industry to participate in that process, via their governments. The U.S. has opposed the ATT so far. Duncan said that American arms export controls were very tight, but their extraterritorial provisions cause difficulties and might not be necessary under an ATT regime. Russian and China abstained from the last UN vote on the ATT.