Religious, peace groups say new U.N. agreement helps curb arms trade

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Religious and peace groups heralded a nonbinding U.N. agreement on small arms that they said helps incremental efforts to curb the trade of illicit weapons. But disarmament advocates also said the action is part of a wider effort to curtail a serious international problem that is being fought by faith communities, such as parishes in Brazil. "The parish priest in the Rio (de Janeiro) favelas (slums) is part of the same network as those involved in negotiations at the United Nations," said Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham, England, a participant at the July 14-18 U.N. conference. "You need to do this work at different levels. "We're not expecting to change things overnight," he told Catholic News Service. The U.N. conference ended with 134 nations agreeing to a set of recommendations that includes the marking of small arms at the point of manufacture to assist tracing efforts. The United States did not cast a vote and kept a low profile during the conference, advocates said. The conference also recommended efforts to boost controls and management of state-run weapons arsenals, often targets of smugglers and thieves.

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