Diplomats voted on 7 November to hold a final UN Conference on the ATT in March 2013. The vote came on the last day of the UN’s First Committee and was passed with an unprecedented 157 votes in favour, 18 abstentions and 0 votes against.

The resolution does include the ccontroversial stipulation that the text must be agreed under the “consensus” rule. Following intense lobbying by civil society, the resolution contains a provision that notes if all states are not able to agree to a deal in March, the UN will keep the treaty on its current agenda. This would allow the text to be sent for a final vote at the UN General Assembly later in 2013.

Simply achieving agreement on holding a final negotiating conference agreed upon is a positive step and an impressive number of countries expressed significant optimism and political will for finishing the job in early 2013. However, much work is still needed to fill in the missing pieces that will help the Arms Trade Treaty have a meaningful impact once adopted.

“It is the voices of the overwhelming majority of states that want a strong treaty which must now be heard. While a treaty which includes the greatest number of states remains the core objective, a robust text will prove far more effective in the future than a compromise text that states subscribe to, but subsequently ignore. The agreement next year must be one that will ultimately make the greatest difference for victims of armed violence.”

– Anna McDonald, Head of arms control at Oxfam.

As the world embarks on a second chance to save lives and protect livelihoods, we are reminded that over half a million people die each year from armed violence. In March, we will get another opportunity to change that. The world cannot wait.

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