Must-Reads from Around the World

The U.N. signs the first treaty to regulate the global arms trade, Malaysia will have a general election later this month, and the world’s poorest countries said they will commit to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions

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Pakistani Taliban fighters hold weapons as they receive training in Ladda, South Waziristan tribal region, December 2011.

Arms Trade Treaty — The U.N. General Assembly has approved a treaty that regulates the global trade of conventional weapons, reports the New York Times. Under the new treaty, sellers are required to consider how buyers will use the weapons and make that information public. After seven years of negotiations, the approved treaty “calls for sales to be evaluated on whether the weapons will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children,” writes the Times. Implementation, however, is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism at present.

Nuclear Iran — A new report shows that Iran’s nuclear program has cost the country well over $100 billion in lost oil and foreign investment revenues without generating noteworthy benefits, notes Reuters. The report says Iran’s nuclear program “is entangled with too much pride — however misguided — and sunk costs simply to be abandoned.” Instead, the report prescribes a broad political settlement, an effort at détente and a diplomatic solution to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue. This week, Iran will meet with six world powers in Kazakhstan in hopes of finding a solution to the standoff.

Malaysian General Election — Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has dissolved parliament to pave the way for a general election sometime this month, reports the BBC. Najib will face opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in what is expected to be a tight race. The ruling National Front coalition, in power for 56 years, lost its two-thirds majority for the first time in 2008. Over the past year, the PM has tried to regain support for his coalition by directing more public funds to the poor and getting rid of security laws that were generally considered repressive. Most analysts, according to the Guardian, think the National Front “will still have the upper hand because of its support in predominantly rural constituencies that hold the key to a large number of parliament’s seats.” A polling date will be fixed in the coming days.

Climate Change Agreement — The world’s poorest countries are to commit to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Guardian. The group of 49 Least Developed Countries (LDC) have previously said that industrialized nations, which emitted most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, should take responsibility for dealing with climate change through cuts in carbon emissions. The agreement by the LDC group — whose member states include 12% of the world’s people — could speed up U.N. climate change negotiations, which have for years aimed to reach an agreement on climate change. But that will now largely depend on the commitment of the richer countries, writes the Guardian.

Fresh Blow for Hollande – The embattled French President François Hollande has been hit by a fresh scandal as his former budget minister was charged with tax fraud, reports the Guardian. Jérôme Cahuzac, who once led France’s fight against tax fraud, admitted that he concealed €600,000 ($769,000) in an illegal offshore bank account for 20 years. The allegations against Cahuzac were first made in December, notes the daily, and for four months he repeatedly denied that he held a hidden account. Tuesday’s admission comes as a huge embarrassment for Hollande, who had vowed that his government would be above reproach after the corruption allegations directed at previous administrations, writes the Guardian.