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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An ambitious treaty designed to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade will take effect on Dec. 24 after it was ratified Thursday by five more countries.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that more than 50 countries have now ratified the treaty, meaning it will soon take force.
"Today marks a milestone," Ban said, announcing that the Bahamas, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay have now ratified the treaty, passed by the UN General Assembly less than two years ago.
He said the treaty can help curb the spread of deadly weaponry into "irresponsible" hands and provides a legally binding commitment.
Officials say 53 countries including many major arms exporters have now ratified the measure, aimed at stemming the worldwide trade in illegal weapons, which is estimated to generate between $60 billion and $85 billion annually.
The treaty will require countries that ratify it to set up a system of national regulations to control the transfer of arms and arms components and to regulate arms brokers. It is not designed to control the domestic weapons within any country.
Anna Macdonald, co-chair of the Control Arms Coalition, said her group, which includes NGOs in more than 100 countries, welcomes the news that the treaty will soon have the force of law.
"Governments have responded, and the momentum remains strong with states from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa," she said. "But the world is still wracked by conflict, civilians are paying the cost with their lives. The arms trade is still out of control. This is a huge opportunity, a chance to change the arms trade."
She called on all nations to ratify the treaty to give it more impact.
The United States has signed the treaty but has not ratified it in the U.S. Senate. It is strongly opposed by the influential National Rifle Association.
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