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Kenya laments collapse of talks on UN arms trade treaty

Friday March 29 2013

By Kevin J Kelley, New York

Kenya has lamented the collapse of talks at the United Nations that were meant to produce a treaty on global arms trade.

"Today was the day" to adopt a text that "would reduce human suffering," Kenya's delegate, Eng John Ochieng,  told the UN conference.

Although the two-week session had ended in failure, "the will of the overwhelming majority is clear and present," the Kenyan delegate declared.

Kenya was commissioned to speak on Thursday on behalf of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and eight other countries, reflecting its leading role in the seven-year-long effort to adopt a global arms trade agreement,.

Syria, North Korea and Iran blocked the adoption of the draft treaty that was favoured by over 100 UN member-states.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would now be urged to bring the treaty's text to a vote in the General Assembly soon.

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The deadline for concluding talks on arms-trade agreement at UN headquarters in New York was March 28.

Some NGOs had predicted that the draft version of the treaty would be because it lacked sufficient safeguards against illicit transfers of weaponry.

Negotiations on the treaty had been conducted on the basis of consensus.

The chairman of the conference, Peter Woolcott of Australia, called the outcome "disappointing," adding that this failure "cast a cloud" on the UN's capacity to achieve results through consensus.

The treaty text was strong and balanced, and "would make a difference," Mr Woolcott said.

Noting that the General Assembly will now take up the matter, Mr Woolcott declared, "The treaty is coming."