Arms treaty supporters hope to see stalled pact move ahead after U.S. election July 29, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in War.
Tags: armaments, arms dealers, arms manufacturers, arms trade, arms trafficking, arms treaty, barak obama, conventional arms, human rights, nra, olivia ward, roger hollander, war, war profiteering
Roger’s note: “The power of the U.S. gun lobby was evident in President Barack Obama’s sudden reversal of his earlier co-operation, which had helped to close arms transfer loopholes that would have been impossible to plug without the agreement of the world’s largest arms exporter.”
“War is Peace!” says Nobel Peace Laureate Barak “Orwell” Obama.
Alex Brandon/AP Global trade in conventional weapons is estimated at $60 billion a year. The huge profits for arms manufacturers are cited as a major hurdle in negotiating an Arms Treaty Pact, which was stalled on Friday after the U.S. asked for a postponement.
“(We are) determined to secure an Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible, one that will bring about a safer world for the sake of all humanity,” said Mexico, speaking for a group of 90 countries.
The treaty, aimed at regulating the $60-billion trade in conventional arms, which are estimated to kill more than 700,000 people a year, had appeared to be headed for a successful finish by the Friday deadline after more than three weeks of debating in New York by national arms control teams.
But at the last moment the U.S. told delegates to the 193-country UN conference that it needed more time to consult on the pact. Treaty skeptics Russia and China also asked for a postponement.
Control Arms, a coalition of several dozen international advocacy groups, among them Amnesty International and Oxfam, said the treaty should go speedily to the UN General Assembly “to improve the text and establish a process for its agreement.”
However, there is little hope it could be adopted before next year, after this fall’s U.S. election. There are also fears that it could unravel if some countries demand that negotiations start over again.
The power of the U.S. gun lobby was evident in President Barack Obama’s sudden reversal of his earlier co-operation, which had helped to close arms transfer loopholes that would have been impossible to plug without the agreement of the world’s largest arms exporter.
The National Rifle Association has been campaigning to convince American lawmakers that the treaty would be a disguised “gun grab” that would deny lawful U.S. owners their constitutional right to bear arms. The group is credited with unseating U.S. politicians who take a positive stand on gun control.
As the treaty neared completion Thursday, a bipartisan group of 51 senators wrote to Obama threatening to oppose it if it fell short of what they consider a constitutional guarantee of U.S. gun ownership rights. Each country’s lawmakers must ratify the treaty after it is signed.
Obama’s about-face drew outrage from those who have been striving for such a treaty for nearly 10 years. In 2006, the UN General Assembly voted to begin work on it but lacked the support of the U.S. In 2009 Obama ended America’s opposition and agreed to join the negotiations.
The pact, which covers a wide range of weapons including tanks, armoured vehicles, combat aircraft and helicopters, rockets, warships, and portable weapons, is one of the most contentious the UN has negotiated because it would affect huge profits for highly competitive exporters worldwide.
Under the treaty, exporting countries would be forced to halt transfers of weapons if they judged that these weapons would be used to violate international human rights. Countries would also have to prevent weapons from going to terrorists or organized crime rings, such as Mexico’s drug cartels.
Senior ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Sweden, which backed the treaty, said that “coupled with a growth in the illicit trafficking of arms, we are facing a growing threat to humanity.
“Every year millions of people suffer from direct and indirect effects of the poorly regulated arms trade and illicit trafficking of arms. Hundreds of thousands are killed or injured. Many are raped or forced to abandon their homes. Others live under a constant threat of violence,” they wrote in the Guardian earlier this month.
But Kim Holmes of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank which opposes the treaty, called it “contradictory and unenforceable,” saying it “would bind law-abiding nations while letting tyrants off the hook.”
The treaty’s definition of human rights and acceptable arms transfers “could be used to protect their arms exporters from U.S. competition,” Holmes wrote in the Washington Times.