The UN general Assembly will vote on Tuesday on the first international treaty establishing rules for cross-border conventional arms trade as Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked its adoption by consensus last week.
The resolution to adopt the treaty will require a two-thirds majority vote of the 193 UN member states, according to UN rules.
The document received strong support from the majority of UN members last Thursday, but the three states have criticized the draft as “unbalanced” and giving an advantage to the world’s biggest weapons exporters.
The prospective treaty is designed to improve the regulation of the global arms trade, estimated to be worth $60-$70 billion per year, and reduce the 750,000 annual deaths caused by arms-related incidents.
According to the draft text, the treaty applies to all conventional arms, including not only small arms and light weapons, but also battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers.
It would also create binding requirements for nations to review all cross-border arms contracts to ensure arms will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism or violations of humanitarian law.
Many observers have expressed skepticism over the treaty. Even if adopted, it is unlikely to prove effective, they say, as major arms traders, including the United States and Russia, have no interest in reducing weapons sales.
The United States is the world’s biggest arms trader accounting for over 40 percent of global conventional arms transfers, with $28.76-billion annual revenues, according to the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) think tank.
Russia occupies the second position in world arms sales as the country’s annual arms exports more than doubled over six years from $6 billion in 2005 to over $13 billion in 2011.
In 2012, Russia sold a record $15.16 billion worth of weaponry adding Afghanistan, Ghana, Oman, and Tanzania to its foreign client list, according to the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service (FSMTC).