Vienna, 3 June 2013 Press release

Important step towards controlling illegal and irresponsible arms trade

Spindelegger welcomes the signing of the global Arms Trade Treaty in New York Important step towards controlling illegal and irresponsible arms trade

Vienna, 3 June 2013 - "By signing the global Arms Trade Treaty, the international community and Austria have taken an important step towards implementing the binding rules under international law that were agreed for the global trade in arms in March as soon as possible and towards monitoring the illegal and irresponsible arms trade efficiently", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said, commenting on the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty at the UN headquarters in New York. Ambassador Martin Sajdik, the Austrian permanent representative at the United Nations, signed the treaty on behalf of Austria.

"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 international arms trade which until now has scarcely been subjected to any regulation whatsoever. The dramatic situation in Syria underlines how important it is to counter the problems caused by irresponsible arms trade by introducing high legal standards", Spindelegger said. "It is now important that the contract enters into force under international law as soon as possible. This requires 50 ratifications. Austria is going to do all it can to achieve them."

The wording of the contract that was finalised in New York in March is the outcome of many years of negotiations. 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 the transparency and responsibility.

"The high export control standards of the EU and Austria are stricter than the arms trade treaty and will remain unchanged in any case. The treaty is, however, a vital step towards creating global legal standards for arms trade thanks to the universal approval it received. 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 concluded.


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