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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Small Arms Conference Ends in Shambles

UNITED NATIONS -- A UN meeting meant to expand a five-year-old crackdown on the illicit global trade in small arms ended in chaos Friday as delegates ran out of time without reaching agreement on a plan for future action.

"There was a total meltdown at the end. You don't know if it was a conspiracy or just a screw-up," said one delegate, speaking on condition of anonymity. Other delegates said negotiations had simply proceeded too slowly, leaving too much to do on the last day.

Rebecca Peters of the International Action Network on Small Arms accused governments of letting a few states "hold them all hostage and to derail any plans." IANSA identified the main players blocking agreement as Cuba, India, Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Other gun control activists named China, Egypt and Venezuela as well.

The idea of tightening controls on international arms transfers won support from 115 nations. But plans for a formal appeal for tougher controls died at the meeting's end.

The United States set the tone from the start when Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Robert Joseph laid out a long list of proposals that Washington would not accept. Joseph said Washington was willing to endorse, however, a set of global principles aimed at keeping small arms out of the hands of groups intent on human rights abuse, genocide or breaking UN arms embargoes.