Collapse of arms trade treaty talks narrowly averted

UNITED NATIONS - Negotiators on Friday narrowly averted the collapse of talks on a world arms trade treaty to regulate the $55 billion global weapons market, agreeing on ground rules for negotiations after days of procedural wrangling.
Delegates and advocates for tougher oversight of global arms sales said the agreement set the stage for a month-long conference in July to draft the treaty.
Arms control campaigners say one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence and that a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities.
Earlier on Friday, arms control activists and diplomats said the talks were nearly derailed by disputes over procedure - above all whether participants can effectively veto an agreement in July - although those issues were eventually resolved. There are also divisions over whether human rights should be a mandatory criterion for determining whether governments should permit weapons exports to specific countries.
Brian Wood of Amnesty International said Russia, China and several other arms-exporting nations were "resisting proposals from the overwhelming majority for criteria in the treaty that would stop arms transfers" when there was reason to believe they could be used for serious human rights violations.
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