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  • Day Three: At the Arms Trade Treaty Conference, the U.S. Speaks

    After the dictatorial circus of the morning, the afternoon session of the ATT Conference was comparatively calm.

    The lowlight was the address by Saudi Arabia, which seemed to be doing its best to outbid Egypt in the “we support Palestine” sweepstakes. No demand was too extreme: Palestinian state membership in the U.N., nuclear disarmament, no parallel meetings at the conference, an attack on Israel for not respecting the right of Palestinian self-determination in the “Occupied Territories” (someone needs to tell the Saudis that Hamas, not Israel, controls Gaza), a demand that the treaty respect the “rights of importing states” (i.e., the rights of autocracies to buy the guns they want), and the need for states to be able to import arms for “internal security” (a demand that is wide open to abuse by authoritarian regimes).

    The highlights of the session were, thankfully, more numerous. Spain and New Zealand made solid statements urging that the ATT apply strictly to genuinely international arms traffic. Canada’s statement, too, was helpful on what in the U.S. would be Second Amendment grounds, though regrettably it chose to defend the legitimacy of hunting and sport shooting in the context only of the treaty’s preamble, not its scope.

    And then there was the U.S. statement, made by Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman. As in July 2011, the U.S. spoke on behalf of the Permanent Five (P5) Members of the Security Council. The statement was banal but obviously important.

    The U.S. and the rest of the P5 want an ATT that is based fundamentally on “effective systems [of national control] based on common international standards,” with authority for approving transfers remaining the right and responsibility of sovereign nations. The scope of the treaty should be as broad as possible—so long as it is practical. An Implementation Support Unit in the U.N. “could” be created to facilitate information exchange, match needs for foreign aid with those supplying it, and “promote the value” of the ATT.

    Finally, the ATT should not enter into force until a reasonable number—Countryman suggested 65—states had ratified it, and he “expects” this number to include the main arms trading states.

    Little if any of this is shocking—most surprising was the U.S. support for U.N. propaganda, i.e. activities to “promote the value” of the ATT—but a few points are worth making.

    First, Countryman did not mention including small arms, light weapons, or ammunition in the ATT. Second, he made no reference at all to domestic constitutional protections or the need for the ATT to respect hunters and sport shooters and the right of personal self-defense. Finally, he emphasized the need for the national definition of the goods and services covered by the ATT.

    In short, the U.S. statement was pure lowest common denominator, which is not surprising: In the context of the ATT, the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and China in fact agree on very little. The U.S. strategy, thus, continues to be fairly simple: to run interference for the autocracies and to try to secure an ATT that the U.S., Russia, and China can sign on to (which will be an ATT that is very general) in the hope that this will satisfy the broader demand for a treaty.

    And that leads to the real conflict in the U.S. position: An ATT that is based on sovereignty cannot at the same time be one that is based on “common international standards” if those standards are in practice defined by the ever-evolving sentiments of the “international community” and tightened regularly by the review conferences that will be found necessary by the unsatisfied majority at this conference.

    The U.S. is kicking the can down the road. But in so doing, it’s moving ever closer to a treaty that will be bad for U.S. interests and will keep U.S. diplomats busy fending off more bad ideas for years to come.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Day Three: At the Arms Trade Treaty Conference, the U.S. Speaks

    1. @syjere17 says:

      Absolutely NOT. Americans will never, ever stand for such a thing. It's insanity. And furthermore, I'd like to know how they can't absolutely hear the American People SCREAMING about the UN and these Shenanigans on Twitter. Seriously. WAKE UP. Absolutely NOT!

      • Adam says:

        The treaty will not inhibit a citizens ability to purchase arms. This has been established many times in the prep-comms.

        You and the right wing loons need to wake up and open your eyes while you are at it and actually READ SOME OF THE DOCUMENTS BEING MADE instead of listening to fox news and crappy blogs such as this.

        • tina says:

          When any arms trade agreement is run by the United Nations Office For Disarmament, it is a pretty clear indication of what their ultimate goal is. If you believe the nonsense that you post you truly are a fool.

        • Bobbie says:

          that's pretty rude, Adam! when a treaty is involved through the acts of governing forces beyond your own, the treaty is worded to disguise what will be inhibited all in good time, by government force…
          I hear accepting necessary considerations weakens naiveté, opens the mind and builds it's wisdom…

    2. Ben says:

      Adam – if you believe that this will not affect US citizens AND that it cannot be used against us…then you are the loon. I hope every American in this great country rises and lets their voice be heard. This is the beginning of a very bad thing.

    3. GMiller says:

      First, it was "Fast and Furious." Now it's ATT.

      If Obama and Hillary support it, chances are it is bad for us. It would override our Second Amendment in some respects, Therefore, anyone who signs or votes for it is a traitor. Call or write your Senator today.

    4. Bobbie says:

      we need more elected officials of true America(ns) to stand against this man and his cowardly crew of a disappointing many!

    5. Riley says:

      This administration is all about Soviet or CheCom still communist dictatorship and distruction of the Constitution. What protects the constitution is Freedom of Speech and Right to bear Arms. And Time after time we see this administration attempts to destroy both. God help us all if this Castro Want to Be gets re-elected or finds a way to steal the election or stop the elections this fall from happening. The Freedom of the U.S. Citizens is under attack and it is time to take ride our selves of the Domestic Enemies of the Constitution. Nov 6th. 2012 should not only be election day but the 2nd Independence day. True lovers of the Constitution and Freedom need to be at the polls this Fall. Most Important election of the last 100 years.

    6. Riley says:

      Wee need to understand that this Castro Want to Be in the Whitehouse and is hechmen are determine to destroy the Constitution and what stands in their Way is the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is not about sports, Hunting protecting your family from house invasion or crimes on your person it is really about keeping your Government at bay and if necessary returning it to the Constitution. It is time to wake up all the Constitutional and Freedom Loving Americans and going to the polls on Nov 6th and gaining back the Constitution and driving the Domestic Enemies of the Constitution from the Whitehouse and the Congress. And let's not forget that their are also Supreme Court Justices who need to go as well.

    7. RParmar says:

      There is a international nuclear arms non proliferation treaty. Hows that working out? Bad people will do bad things. You cant keep bad people from getting guns. You will only keep good people from getting guns to defend themselves from bad people. The UN at best is worthless and at worst is very harmfull. They cannot prevent anyone from doing anything, hense all the conflict in the world. This treaty is well meaning but worthless at the same time due to what I said above. All this will do is markedly hurt the US gun manufactures and who thinks that doing anything to hurt US manufactures at this time is a good idea. This is more ingnorant socialist Obama idealology that is bad for america. There is a great deal of conflict in this world and the answers lie with political,social, and idealogical solutions. Humans have been slaughtering one another for hundreds of thousands of years before gun powder was ever invented.

    8. Iran, condemned by the U.N. council for supplying weapons to Syria, was elected vice-president of the ATT proceedings. This action was also condemned by the U.S. on July 12th, 2012 and should be sufficient for anyone, even far left-wing liberals, to question the wisdom of ratifying such a treaty.

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