Some 60 nations have approved a new United Nations global arms treaty, covering the supply of tanks, artillery, armoured vehicles, combat aircraft, battleships and more.
The UN's Arms Trade Treaty opened for signatures on 3 June and, so far, the uptake has been considerable, with a total of 61 countries now having given it their blessing. They include Argentina, which was quick to move, but not the United States, although Washington's signature is expected imminently.
On the other hand, it is not anticipated that China and Russia are in any rush to sign the Arms Trade Treaty and may not ever do so.
Arms Trade Treaty
The Arms Trade Treaty has been in development for more than six years but was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly two months ago. At that point, 154 nations gave it their support but three nations - North Korea, Iran and Syria - voiced opposition and there were 26 abstentions, including Egypt, India, China and Russia.
The Arms Trade Treaty is the first significant global effort to try and halt the illegal weapons trade responsible for heightened violence and extremist actions in many parts of the world.
The countries which ultimately ratify it will be obliged to set up strict arms sales controls.
UN Arms Treaty Signatures
According to Ban Ki-moon - the United Nations Secretary General - the rapid flow of first-day treaty signatures emphasises how "the world has finally put an end to the 'free-for-all' nature of international weapons transfers". He added: "The treaty...will make it harder for weapons to be diverted into the illicit market, to reach warlords, pirates, terrorists and criminals or to be used to commit grave human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law."
The UN Arms Trade Treaty has seven sponsor nations, namely Argentina, Australia, Finland, Kenya, Japan, Costa Rica and the UK. "It is vital that the treaty comes into force as soon as possible and is effectively implemented", these seven said, in a statement issued on 3 June.