UNITED NATIONS — African countries along with China, Russia and Venezuela refused on Friday to back a UN resolution on curbing the spread of small arms, but it was still adopted after much wrangling.
Six countries abstained from the vote at the 15-member Security Council, but the resolution still garnered the required nine votes for adoption.
Angola, Chad and Nigeria argued that the resolution did not specifically include language barring arms deliveries to "non-state actors", a term opposed by Britain, France and the United States.
Such language was unacceptable to the three powers which are offering military support to opposition fighters in Syria.
British Ambassador Mathew Rycroft argued that the term "non-state actors" was "ill-defined and practically unenforceable" and would not "in any way improve the situation on the ground."
Angola's Ambassador Ismael Abraao Gaspar Martins cited his country's own "painful experience" of 27 years of war to say that they could not support a resolution with a "loophole" that did not bar arms supplies to rebel groups.
Non-state actors, he argued, "fuel conflicts, destabilize countries and promote policies of regime change."
The resolution builds on an Australian-led text adopted in 2013 and calls on member-states to take action to prevent illegal supplies of arms to armed groups that fuel conflict worldwide.
"The draft is not ideal, but the world we live in is not ideal either," Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite told the council ahead of the vote.
The vote followed a debate held last week on the use of small arms as the Security Council grapples with conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Syria, all of which are awash in weapons.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had called for action to step up arms control, in particular by keeping track of ammunition flows.