The United Nations General Assembly resolution passed on Wednesday to regulate the global arms trade was long overdue, coming after 20 years of study and negotiations. But although it was definitely a step in the right direction, at this point the effects look to be mostly symbolic, a gesture of overwhelming global sentiment that regulation is needed.
The General Assembly vote was 154 nations for, three against and 23 abstentions. Loud cheers swept the floor as the final vote was posted. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the passage of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) "a victory for the world's people" and a "powerful new tool in our efforts to prevent grave human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law".
But in reality, even compared with other UN actions not backed by the Security Council, this treaty has no "teeth". It is a voluntary regime with no organisation authorised to enforce regulations or to assess penalties, and no true regulations.
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