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Global Arms Trade [update]

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Jump to update – 3 Reasons the Arms Trade Treaty Is Useless

As the arms trade treaty conference fails to reach consensus, what is next for the UN’s efforts to police the planet?

(Al Jazeera) – It was hailed as an historic step towards regulating the global arms trade. A landmark UN treaty aimed at preventing weapons from ending up in the wrong hands.

But after years of negotiations, Iran, Syria and North Korea stopped the treaty in its tracks.

“It’s been blocked by three deeply cynical countries. The Democratic Republic of Korea, Syria and Iran. And those governments with their records in terms of Human Rights in their own countries, are just poorly,” Kate Allen, the director at Amnesty International UK said.

The treaty was the first of its kind, and it was the result of nearly 10 years of debate.

Its goal was quite simply, it consisted in monitoring the flow of arms across international borders, and stop them from being used to commit atrocities.

UN members countries would be forced to take responsibility for incoming weapons- making sure they didn’t fall into the wrong hands.

All five permanent members of the Security Council are major exporters – and critics say the agreement was carefully crafted to protect their interests.

But in the end, it only took three “no” votes to stop the treaty from being adopted.

So, what is next for the UN and its effort to police the planet? Is a global arms trade treaty possible ? And even if it was possible, would it actually make a difference?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Paul Holtom, the director of the Arms Transfer programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute; and Kaye Stearman, a spokeswoman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

[notify textbox-grey]”The trade in arms is legitimate already. I think what it’s doing is just drawing a clear line between those transfers would be unacceptable, and which the UN states, 190 of them, could agree that this was a baseline that could be accepted by them …. The treaty contains three very clear prohibitions, one it should not violate UN arms embargoes; secondly, you should be taking measures to avoid illicit trafficking; and thirdly that it should not be authorising transfers if you have reasonable, good knowledge, that these could be used for violations of international humanitarian law. There are also further previsions in that, where you have to undertake a risk assessment to ensure that you are not going to be supplying arms for serious violations of human rights, gender based violence …. These are things that we don’t have in the global level currently.”

– Paul Holtom, the director of the Arms Transfer programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute[/notify]

[UPDATE]


Morning Bell: 3 Reasons the U.N.’s Arms Treaty Is Useless

(The Foundry) – It sounds nice to say there could be a treaty that would make all nations responsible when it comes to their arms exports. Of course, it’s also impossible.

The latest draft of the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which would regulate imports and exports of arms around the world, failed on Friday after a two-week negotiating conference.

Many media reports have said that Iran, North Korea, and Syria were the reasons the treaty failed. But Heritage senior research fellow Ted Bromund was at the conference and reported that, in reality, 29 nations voiced opposition. “All in all, about one in five of the nations at the conference did not back the treaty,” Bromund said.

And it’s not over yet—the U.N. General Assembly is still likely to vote the treaty into being this week. Unfortunately, the U.S. is likely to vote for it in the Assembly.

The U.S. has no business validating such a meaningless document. The ATT is useless for many reasons, including:

1. Bad guys won’t play by the rules. Dictators have no interest whatsoever in being responsible exporters of arms. Instead, they want to protect their rights as importers. That means that they want a treaty that guarantees them the right to buy guns while decreasing the possibility of armed rebellion by their own oppressed people.

The idea that having a treaty would stop dictators, terrorists, and others bent on violence is wishful thinking. But U.N. treaties treat democracies and dictatorships equally.

2. The ATT focuses mainly on those who export arms, instead of arms importers. As Bromund says, “This is in line with the tendency of both the U.N. and uncritical believers in arms control to blame problems on weapons, not on those who use them. Yet it is the importers of the arms, not the exporters or the arms themselves, that are actually responsible for arming terrorists or committing human rights violations with the arms in question.”

Many African nations say they need an ATT to stop arms smuggling. But it’s African governments that do a lot of the smuggling. As Bromund said, “listening to dedicated arms smugglers like Kenya, South Sudan, and Rwanda moan about how they need the treaty to save them from arms smuggling is enough to make you sick.”

3. The treaty still omits the right of individual self-defense. Bromund has explained that the ATT is not a simple “gun grab,” but it’s based on the idea that only governments have an inherent right to own firearms. That’s one reason why the ATT doesn’t recognize American citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Restricting the supply of firearms to private citizens is also something dictators like, because they want to prevent armed opposition to their regimes.

As the world’s most responsible arms exporter, the U.S. has no need to sign on to this international charade. At least some of America’s leaders seem to have caught on, since opposition to the ATT is now at an all-time high in the Senate. We can hope this has a bearing on President Obama’s decision when it comes time to sign.

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