U.N. Fails to Reach Agreement on Arms Treaty

William Lineberry

After nearly a month of deliberation, United Nations’ negotiators failed to meet a Friday deadline to finalize the Arms Trade Treaty. The agreement would regulate the arms trading business, an industry that brings in an annual $60 billion. Instead, delegates decided more time was needed to further discuss and finalize the treaty and said a possible vote would come at the end of this year. The proposed treaty would require countries to inquire if weapons—small arms, missiles, attack helicopters, tanks and other weapons—being sold would be used in violation of human rights laws. Delegates from 170 countries have been discussing a historic arms treaty in New York City for the past four weeks. [that some said would limit the billion-dollar-a-year industry and preserve human rights.] In order for the treaty to pass, a consensus vote was needed by Friday by participating diplomats, but after objections from multiple countries—including top weapons exporters United States and Russia—no consensus was reached for the treaty. Diplomats said the treaty might be brought to a vote at the U.N. General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority vote would be required for the treaty to pass. The General Assembly is set to take place at the end of this year.
Organizations advocating tougher restrictions on the arm trade have decried the failure to finalize a deal. Groups such as Amnesty International and Oxfam International say a treaty is necessary to prevent weapons from being funneled into conflict zones and perpetuating war and death. Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, in a statement lamented against the Obama administration and the U.S.’ failure to agree to the treaty by Friday: This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line … Raising eleventh-hour issues with the treaty language and wanting more time to consult with itself, the Administration stopped momentum that was about to  lead to a vital treaty being finalized at the United Nations to curb the global flow of arms and help save some of the 500,000 civilian lives  lost each year in armed conflict.” The treaty faced domestic opposition from  groups claiming that it would restrict Second Amendment rights. Fifty U.S. senators, led by Jerry Morgan (R.-Kansas) sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stating they would not ratify an arms treaty that limits the rights of gun owners in America. But an international treaty would not override the rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Suzanne Trimel of Amnesty International told the Huffington Post: Basically, what [the NRA and the U.S. senators] are saying is that the arms trade treaty will have some impact on domestic, Second Amendment gun rights. And that is just false, completely false.”
Please consider supporting our work.

I hope you found this article important. Before you leave, I want to ask you to consider supporting our work with a donation. In These Times needs readers like you to help sustain our mission. We don’t depend on—or want—corporate advertising or deep-pocketed billionaires to fund our journalism. We’re supported by you, the reader, so we can focus on covering the issues that matter most to the progressive movement without fear or compromise.

Our work isn’t hidden behind a paywall because of people like you who support our journalism. We want to keep it that way. If you value the work we do and the movements we cover, please consider donating to In These Times.

Illustrated cover of Gaza issue. Illustration shows an illustrated representation of Gaza, sohwing crowded buildings surrounded by a wall on three sides. Above the buildings is the sun, with light shining down. Above the sun is a white bird. Text below the city says: All Eyes on Gaza
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.