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.”
Limited Time:

SUBSCRIBE TO IN THESE TIMES MAGAZINE FOR JUST $1 A MONTH