Within the last couple of hours, the UN has overwhelmingly adopted a Resolution bringing into effect an Arms Trade Treaty. It is a significant moment which deserves note.
Every minute of the day someone, somewhere – usually a civilian – is killed by some form of arms or munitions, the trade in which has been less regulated than that of bananas.
Since 2006, when the UK co-authored the first UN General Assembly resolution on the issue, we have been heavily engaged in trying to do something about it. It has not been easy. There are many varied interests, including those which are wholly legitimate. States have a need for self-defence, and to deter aggression. A defence industry is necessary for providing such nations with the means to protect themselves, but we also need to prevent the passage of arms to those who would use them for illicit purposes. Finding a way to pull together all these interests, and obtain something worthwhile at the end, has required the highest diplomatic skill – and our representatives have delivered.