The United Nations Approves Global Arms Control Treaty

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Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero addresses the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 20, 2010.

On Tuesday the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to approve a first of its kind global arms trade treaty. After years of wrangling, 154 countries voted in support of the treaty, 3 against and 23 abstained.

The treaty mandates that conventional weapons not be transferred to countries that are subject to U.N. arms embargoes or to states that promote genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Republican Senators and at least one Democrat immediately condemned the treaty, calling it a "non-starter" and vowing to oppose Senate ratification. And without ratification, it's just another piece of paper.

As a consultant for the U.N.'s lead ambassador on the treaty, Rachel Stohl knows more about this issue than most. She is also a senior associate at the Stimson Center.