U.N. Fails to Reach Agreement on Arms Treaty

William Lineberry

Don't miss the special, extra-length issue of In These Times devoted entirely to the subject of socialism in America today. This special issue is available now. Order your copy today for just $5.00, shipping included.

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.”
For a limited time:

Donate $20 or more to In These Times and we'll send you a copy of Let This Radicalize You.

In this new book, longtime organizers and movement educators Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes examine the political lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, including the convergence of mass protest and mass formations of mutual aid. Let This Radicalize You answers the urgent question: What fuels and sustains activism and organizing when it feels like our worlds are collapsing?

We've partnered with the publisher, Haymarket Books, and 100% of your donation will go towards supporting In These Times.

Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.