“They will no longer be able to operate and arm themselves with impunity,” MacDonald said in a statement after the vote.
“We know we’re not getting everything we want in the treaty, but it’s potentially a massive victory for human rights globally,” said Scott Stedjan, a senior policy advisor at Oxfam America. “This is the easy part. Implementation is the hard part.”
Implementation was a sticking point for those who were ambivalent about the agreement. A handful of states expressed serious reservations, most notably from countries considered the worst human rights offenders.
Negotiators from Iran, North Korea and Syria, who blocked the treaty’s adoption by consensus last Thursday, argued that too many loopholes exist in the treaty and that it could be used against certain member states for political gain. And they charged that the U.S. and other countries that export weapons will have a huge advantage over countries that import weapons.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the administration was “pleased with the outcome” and that it “achieves the objectives that we set out for this negotiation.”
The treaty must now be approved by Congress and it will take effect after 50 countries ratify it. Carney said the White House would follow “normal procedures to conduct a thorough review of the treaty text to determine whether to sign the treaty.” He did not know how long that would take.
Latin American members, including Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador, delivered a joint statement with Mexico pledging to get to work on implementation, although no timetable was given.
“We know that the final text does not fully meet everyone’s expectations,” the statement said. “However, the Treaty enables us to make it stronger, and through its implementation, to adapt it to future developments.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the adoption.
“This is a victory for the world’s people,” the U.N. leader said in a written statement. “I applaud states for their willingness to compromise on a number of complex issues, thus making it possible for us to have a balanced and robust treaty text.”
But that’s not enough for Jesús Martínez, a Salvadoran conflict survivor, who at age 17 lost both of his legs in a landmine accident walking to his job.
“It was very difficult because Central American countries are not prepared to deal with people with these types of disabilities.” said Martínez, director of the Landmine Survivor’s Network in El Salvador.
“We can share our opinion with official delegates and let them know our feeling, but for this kind of treaty, they feel it is not possible to include the survivor’s voice,” he added.
McClatchy White House correspondent Lesley Clark contributed to this report.