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No Consensus on Arms Trade Treaty, Some Try to Re-Define Consensus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- The Arms Trade Treaty talks were to have concluded this afternoon; chairman Peter Woolcott has scheduled a press stakeout at 6 pm.

But as delegates continued milling around in Conference Room 1, Inner City Press observed the UN Television stakeout being taken apart at 6:10 pm.

By 6:45 pm, Iran, North Korea and Syria had formally objected, blocking consensus. Mexico and some others argued that the ATT could still be adopted -- without a vote -- since there is no definition of consensus.

But Syria cited a definition, from the World Health Organization in 1987. Russia echoed that. Iran went further, saying that those trying to change the rules should “leave the building.”

Iran had earlier spoken up with sample objections; sources told Inner City Press their main issue was the inclusion of a reference to UN Security Council Chapter 7 sanctions, which they are under.

North Korea, too, is under them. So is Sudan, but several sources told Inner City Press Sudan does not want to stand alone, or even, as a source put it “be seen as one of the rogues.”

But there are principles, and the proponents of the ATT if they wanted consensus might have paid more attention to them.

As delegates milled around on the first floor, Inner City Press nearly alone staked out the second floor protocol room NLB-2109. Iran's Permanent Representative came out with his Syrian counter-part Bashar Ja'afari. Soon thereafter, the objections were made, then the attempts to re-define consensus. Only at the UN. Watch this site.

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