Cambodia Signs Landmark Arms Trade Treaty

Cambodia has signed an international treaty designed to regulate the trade in conventional weapons, becoming the 114th country to formally pledge its support for the agreement, which was adopted by the U.N.’s General Assembly in April.

Sea Kosal, Cambodia’s ambassador to the U.N. in New York, signed the Arms Trade Treaty on October 18, according to the U.N.

The treaty seeks to “establish the highest possible international standard for regulating…the international trade in conventional arms” and “prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms.”

Conventional weapons are defined as tanks, armored vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and small arms.

The treaty prohibits the export, import, and cross-border shipment of conventional weapons in cases of arms embargoes and when such arms might be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Rights groups have called the treaty groundbreaking in that it im­poses moral standards on the global arms trade, which amounts to $70 billion annually.

Although 114 of the U.N.’s 193 member states have now signed the treaty, which was approved by the General Assembly on April 2, the agreement requires the ratification of 50 countries to come into force, and defines no specific en­forcement mechanism. Eight countries have ratified it so far.

Cambodian government officials on Thursday provided no details about how the treaty might affect the country’s own import and export of weaponry, and most were unaware that Cambodia had even signed the document.

“I have not received clear information about this,” said Defense Minister General Tea Banh.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he was unaware of the treaty but said he would look into it.

(Additional reporting by Mech Dara)

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