United Nations: The world`s nations opened negotiations on Monday on an arms trade treaty meant to regulate the $55 billion global weapons market and prevent guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities.
One person every minute dies as a result of armed violence, and some 128 armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War in 1989 have led to at least 250,000 deaths each year, according to the Control Arms Campaign, an international advocacy group.
After years of debate, the U.N. General Assembly last October authorized formal talks. Monday marked the start of the first of three preparatory sessions over the next year, with a four-week conference planned for 2012 to finalize a treaty.
Supporters aim is to set common rules for international arms sales -- from rifles to fighter planes -- to replace a patchwork of national laws riddled with loopholes that make it easy to buy weapons for conflicts.
Key issues in the negotiations will include what criteria governments will have to fulfill to get a green light for arms sales and how compliance would be monitored.
U.N. disarmament chief Sergio Duarte told delegates from the 192 U.N. member states they could "help reverse the vicious cycles of conflict and armed violence, which up until now have so shattered and destroyed human life and potential."
A treaty would seek "to inject some sense of predictability into a complex and sensitive issue," conference chairman Roberto Garcia of Argentina said last Friday. That could stop arms fueling events like the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where weapons were sold even after the killing began.