More than 60 countries formally signed the Arms Trade Treaty. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. government views the treaty as "an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights."
The treaty bans governments from transferring conventional weapons to other countries known to be engaged in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Iran, for example, is accused of providing weapons to Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside pro-government forces in Syria.
AI Arms Control Director Brian Wood said it's time now to get serious about the arms trade.
"This is a critical test for governments to demonstrate they are serious about implementing a treaty that puts human beings and their security first," he said Monday.
The United States wasn't among those signing the treaty despite Kerry's assessment. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters after the treaty was signed the U.S. government would likely join the measure later this year.
"I think the treaty was negotiated in English but then, obviously, translated into a number of languages, as is common, and there were some discrepancies found in those translations that need to be resolved," he said.