Arms treaty conference agrees decisions by majority in Mexico

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 27, 2015 12:14 AM

By Isela Serrano

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Countries behind a treaty to regulate the international arms trade have agreed future decisions will be made by majority vote, avoiding the risk of veto, and picked Geneva as the seat of the body to police the accord, Mexico's government said on Wednesday.

Officials from 121 governments have been meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun to agree details of how the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will oversee the multi-billion dollar industry.

Jorge Lomonaco, Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said state parties to the ATT had agreed unanimously that if no absolute consensus could be agreed, votes to enable decisions would be passed by two-thirds majority.

On procedural matters, a simple majority would suffice, said Lomonaco, who is also his country's permanent representative to other international organizations in Geneva.

"This is really important because it guarantees that we can take decisions, that decisions aren't blocked," he said.

The participants had agreed that future meetings of the ATT would be open to civil society groups, Lomonaco added.

Anna Macdonald, director of Control Arms, a lobby group, welcomed the agreements reached, which also included how the secretariat of the ATT would be financed, saying that it recognized the role played by civic groups.

A major issue still pending is whether countries would agree on transparency rules for publishing arms sales, a complex point that arms control lobby groups say has met with resistance from some European exporters unwilling to provide full disclosure.

Lomonaco said it was possible there would not be an agreement for outright transparency at the Cancun meeting, which ends on Thursday. But if not, the door to a deal on full disclosure would still be open to future meetings, he added.

"We will achieve it - sooner or later," he said.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Geneva had been chosen as the seat of the permanent secretariat for the ATT, which came into force in December 2014.

The United States is one of some 130 countries to sign the ATT, but it has not ratified the treaty so far. Only 72 countries have completed ratification.

(Editing by Dave Graham)