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Time to curb the illicit global arms trade

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In the absence of international standards and effective national controls, irresponsible arms suppliers exploit the gaps for profit. For years, for instance, Russian firms have supplied helicopters to Syria which have reportedly been used by the Assad regime to attack civilian population centers in recent weeks.

Weapons, ammunition, and equipment made in Belarus, China, and Russia continue to flow into Sudan, supplying government military forces that commit atrocities in Darfur and the Nuba Mountains regions.

As US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security Thomas Countryman said in April, when it comes to the arms trade there must be “a new sense of responsibility upon every member of the United Nations that you cannot simply export and forget.”

The arms trade treaty won’t stop all illicit arms transfers, but it has the potential to change behavior by requiring states to put in place basic regulations and follow common sense criteria that reduce irresponsible international arms transfers and hold arms suppliers more accountable for their actions.

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