Timmermans pleased with resumption of arms treaty negotiations

Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans is pleased with the decision to resume negotiations on a United Nations arms trade treaty next year. It is hoped that the final document will be ready by March 2013.

According to the foreign minister, ‘A treaty like this will contribute to stability in conflict zones and can prevent human rights violations. It’s important to keep the major arms exporters, like the US, Russia and China, involved in the process.’

The Netherlands has actively campaigned for such a treaty, which will set universal standards for the arms trade. This will require countries to ensure that arms sales meet certain criteria, so as to mitigate the risk that end users of the arms could violate human rights. Criteria of this kind are already in place for the Netherlands and the European Union. A UN arms treaty would also help to create a level playing field for the defence industry.

Yesterday, 157 UN member states voted to resume negotiations on the treaty, which had been suspended in July. Eighteen countries abstained, including Russia and various Arab countries.