September 25, 2014 / 3:53 PM / 5 years ago

U.N. says Arms Trade Treaty to enter into force on December 24

Angela Kane, United Nations high representative for disarmament affairs, attends a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York, December 13, 2013. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A global Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the $85 billion industry and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals will come into force on Dec. 24 after the 50th country ratified the agreement on Thursday, the United Nations said.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly adopted the treaty in April last year. Argentina, Bahamas, Portugal, Czech Republic, St. Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay deposited their ratifications with the world body on Thursday, taking the total to 52.

U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane told an Arms Trade Treaty event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that Bosnia and Herzegovina was due to also deposit its ratification later on Thursday.

“The need for the ATT remains abundantly clear. Deadly weaponry continues to find its way into irresponsible hands. Unscrupulous arms brokers defy U.N. arms embargoes. Ruthless leaders turn their arsenals on their own citizens,” Kane said, delivering remarks on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Ammunition depots are poorly guarded. State-owned weapons go missing. Civilian airplanes end up in the crosshairs,” she said. “Just as with other commodities, the trade in arms should comply with vigorous, internationally agreed standards. All actors involved in the arms trade must be held accountable.”

The Arms Trade Treaty aims to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters. It would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law or organized crime.

The United States, the world’s top arms exporter, signed the Arms Trade Treaty in September but has not yet ratified it. The National Rifle Association, a powerful U.S. gun lobby, is opposed to ratification of the treaty, even though it only covers weapons exports, not domestic gun sales.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown

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