Wien, 2. April 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "Historic step towards control of international arms trade"

Vice-Chancellor welcomes UN General Assembly resolution on arms trade treaty

Vienna, 2 April 2013 - "The overwhelming approval granted by the community of states to the arms trade treaty is a historic step towards banning an illegal and irresponsible arms trade and creating binding rules under international law for international arms trade", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said, welcoming the resolution of the United Nations adopted on 2 April.  

"While the treaty may not be perfect and Austria and the European Union would have wished for more stringent rules in some areas, I am still convinced that it represents a first essential step towards solving the severe humanitarian problems caused by the international arms trade, which until now has scarcely been subjected to any regulation whatsoever. The treaty is also an important sign of life of multilateral cooperation and it illustrates that the international community of states does not shy away from attending to global problems", Spindelegger said.

The compromise reached in New York is the outcome of negotiations that extended for years. As any attempt for consensus failed at the conference last week, the wording of the treaty was submitted to the UN General Assembly for approval on 2 April and adopted by a great majority of votes. The successful conclusion of the treaty means that the trade with conventional weapons is banned under international law for the first time in history, if these arms could be used for genocide, crimes against humanity or other war crimes. The treaty also stipulates that all future arms exports must first be subjected to rigorous assessment of the risk of human rights violations, infringements of humanitarian international law and the danger of redirection. By publishing relevant information, the treaty also increases transparency and responsibility.

"The export control standards of the EU and Austria are stricter than the arms trade treaty and will remain unchanged in any case. The treaty concluded in New York, however, is a vital step towards creating global legal standards for arms trade thanks to the universal approval it received", Spindelegger continued. The Foreign Minister expressed appreciation for the prudent and well-considered conduct of the negotiations by the Australian chairman of the conference of states, Ambassador Peter Woolcott, and he also stressed the outstanding role played by the civil society, which has supported the negotiation process for many years. "Civil society's continued urging and lobbying has contributed a significant share to establishing problem awareness and ultimately to the community of states being ready for compromise. The outcome would have been impossible without this support", Spindelegger concluded.

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