Can UN Treaty on Arms Sale Control Succeed?

Arms trade is hard to control as long as there are borders they slip through. It is like the thousands of measures taken to stop drug trafficking and human smuggling, to cite just a few examples. There were countries that faced arms sale ban like Liberia. But this didn’t stop the conflict. Fighters find their sources through private arms dealers. If governments refuse to sell heavy weapons to countries involved in wars, there are other traders ready to sell at least light weapons to the parties needing them. There is also secretive arms sale by some governments as there are other governments that arm groups.

A UN treaty on the international trade in weapons will have little success as long as there are conflicts in strategic regions of the world like the Middle East. There are governments that support armed groups like Iran supporting Hezbullah. This will continue to receive arms through the borders with Syria. In past conflicts, there were arms scandals like Irangate involving US military. This means arms will continue to reach their recipients despite the UN treaty either for lucrative or political reasons.

Arms sale is a lucrative and secretive business. It is the big nations like the USA, Russia that set the tone for arms deal through their wide market monopoly in this domain. Arms sale control remains difficult, as there are political and economic considerations that regulate it. It is a common fact that there is an arms race between many states at the level of production, acquisition and sale. It is a part of their economic activities and defence strategy. Many countries try to acquire as many arms as possible to confront a current situation or just to store them in case of needing to defend themselves or to start an attack. The more things get worse, the more there is a need for arms.

When countries become open about their arsenal and its origin, maybe, arms sale will be traced and measures will be taken. But as there is national sovereignty not allowing ,say, ships sailing between two nations to be searched in international waters and as long as there are miles and miles of unguarded borders around the world, arms will always find their destinations falling in the hands of sanctioned governments, armed groups and organised criminals alike.

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