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Estonia Will Ratify International Arms Trade Treaty


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At the UN headquarters, an event took place about the enforcement of the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Estonia plans to deposit its ratification to the Secretary-General of the UN before the end of the year.

The Estonian foreign minister signed the international Arms Trade Treaty at the UN this July. “The agreement is a historic milestone in the field of disarmament and human rights. The treaty sets clear and high standards to combat the illegal trade of arms and reduce the amount of civilian casualties in conflict zones,” noted Paet.

Estonia hopes that the treaty, which has already been signed by over 100 countries, will come into force within a few years and all states, including large arms exporters and importers, will join it. “We would like for this treaty to become a generally accepted agreement whose principles are followed in every supply decision, because only in this way can we save lives,” noted Paet. Over half a million people, the majority of which are civilians and include about 66,000 women and children, die in armed conflicts every year.

Preparations for the international Arms Trade Treaty began in 2006, but the idea for the treaty dates back to 1997 when Óscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica and Nobel prize laureate, first suggested it. The agreement was drawn up at the UN diplomatic conference on 2-27 July 2012 and in the final round of negotiations on 18-28 March 2013. On 2 April 2013 at the UN General Assembly, 154 states voted in favour of the treaty and 3 states, North Korea, Syria, and Iran, voted against it. The Arms Trade Treaty was signed by 67 countries on 3 July 2013 in New York.

Estonia was one of the vice presidents of the final round of negotiations.

In 2012, the main exporters of conventional arms were USA (30% of the export market), Russia (26%), Germany (7%), France (6%), and China (5%). The main importers of conventional arms were India, China, South Korea, Pakistan, and Singapore. To this day, there is no global agreement which regulates the arms trade. In history, one attempt was made to sign an Arms Trade Convention at the League of Nations in 1925, but agreement was not reached.

The last global agreement in the field of disarmament was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, which still has not come into force.

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