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At UN, Small Arms Consensus Reached, Occupation In, Arms Embargoes Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 -- For two weeks, some delegates in the Small Arms meeting in UN Conference Room 1 lounged around waiting, as political issues about this "politically binding" (but not legally binding) program of action got thrashed out in smaller rooms one floor above.

  On the morning of Friday, the review conference's last day, Inner City Press was told that the issue of how to refer to Security Council arms embargoes, objected to by Iran and North Korea, had been finessed.

  The draft A/CONF.192/2012/RC/CRP.2 had member states undertaking "to take appropriate measures against any activity that violates a UN Security Council arms embargo."

  This explicit reference was dropped; proponents were able to say it was indirectly kept in by reference. Kept in was a reference to "occupation," leading both Israel and the US to disassociate themselves in final statements Friday at 6 pm.

  Still, even these two offered their thanks and congratulations to Program of Action review conference chair Joy Ogwu of Nigeria. One delegation said that women should chair all such review conferences. Liberia bragged about its two recent Nobel Peace prize winners. Sudan praised the outcome.

  There remained other issues that some countries bemoaned not being in, ranging from ammunition, border controls and MAN-PADS to "gender perspectives" and children and armed conflict.

  Regardless, a deal was made. It was like the Arms Trade Treaty (which failed) except that the stakes were lower. And so consensus was reached, the two weeks of loitering and spending were justified, and the UN reloaded.

   Palestine, which as first reported by Inner City Press was blocked from full participation by a ruling by Ban Ki-moon's top lawyer Patricia O'Brien, says there are no more such conferences this year, except perhaps a reconvening of the Law of the Sea Treaty, to elect another representative from the Eastern Europe group. They are ready. Watch this site.

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