Big exporters like Russia and China and importers like India, Indonesia and Egypt were among the 23 nations that abstained from voting.
India, the world's largest importer of military equipment, is apprehensive that arms exporters could use the treaty as a pretext not to provide equipment in case they fail to fulfill conditions of a contract.
The treaty, however, could take some time before becoming an international law. Normally, UN members try to reach a consensus on treaties before proceeding on ratification but the arms treaty was so contentious that the world body decided to move it through a simple majority in the General Assembly.
States can formally sign the treaty document from June 3 and then ratify it in their domestic legislatures. The treaty will come into force 90 days after the 50th country gets it ratified.
The US might face a stiff challenge in ratifying the treaty by the Senate owing to intense lobbying against it by the National Rifle Association. The US accounts for 30 per cent of the global arms exports.
The arms trade treaty eyes to set rules for the trade in small arms, battle tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and others.
Signatories to the trearty must keep records of arms transfers and block shipments which are likely to transgress international human rights laws or supply arms to terrorist and other organised crime outfits. They must submit an annual report on arms transfers to the UN to bring into effect a greater transparency. There are no penalites associated with this though.