TheIntelHub | July 7 2012
Currently, the Obama administration is joining countries from around the world at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN) for negotiations, being held from July 2-27, 2012, attempting to finalize the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), part of which is the somewhat infamous “small arms treaty.”
As Brent Daggett rightly wrote in his fantastic summary of the ATT, the treaty was originally proposed all the way back in 2003.
However, it was not actually addressed in the UN until December of 2006 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled, “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.”
Since that time, support for the treaty – along with what I believe are misguidedly optimistic interpretations of its implications – has grown considerably.
This is evidenced by rehashed claims such as that of Timothy Johnson, who writes for Media Matters for America (an incredibly biased and imbalanced George Soros-backed operation), “U.S. gun owners have nothing to fear from a treaty that essentially seeks to apply the standard for importing and exporting firearms already in place in the United States on a worldwide scale.”
Unsurprisingly, Johnson’s only sources are: the chair of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina, a UN General Assembly resolution, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a senior policy advisor to Oxfam America.
One of Johnson’s main sources in claiming that concern over this treaty is nothing but a “laughable conspiracy [which] has no place in reality” is the UN General Assembly resolution passed on January 12, 2010.
This resolution (which isn’t actually cited by Johnson but instead the reader is provided with a broken link), coded as A/RES/64/48, states, “Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory.”
If you want to read the resolution yourself, which I recommend you do, click this link and then navigate to item number 29, “The arms trade treaty : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly.”
It appears relatively clear that Johnson is taking this out of the context of the resolution, which contains the presupposition “that arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are essential for the maintenance of international peace and security,” which I do not think is necessarily a reasonable conclusion.
Sure, disarmament and non-proliferation are, in and of themselves, wonderful ideas. However, when some states are disarmed while others are not or when private citizens are disarmed and governments are not, “international peace and security” is not the most likely outcome.
Interestingly the resolution Johnson cited acknowledges only “the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs and in order to participate in peace support operations,” while still acknowledging “the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory.”
Unfortunately, this resolution clearly isn’t actually protecting the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, instead it is just acknowledging that sovereign nations have the right to follow their own laws.
This does not, however, mean that anyone is actually protected by this resolution, it simply acknowledges that if states have national constitutional protections on private ownership, they are allowed to follow them.
Personally, I see this as absurd as it is simply restating the obvious: the UN has absolutely no place meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. If they did, the UN would thereby undermine everything that sovereignty really is.
Johnson also attempts to claim that the UN shouldn’t actually be supporting the rights of people around the world to protect themselves with firearms if need be. Unsurprisingly, he is unable to cite anything but research from the United Nations.
Unfortunately, the United States already professed support for the treaty all the way back in 2009, with some “Key U.S. Redlines” which they claim cannot be crossed by the treaty.
These redlines are, according to the U.S. State Department:
- The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld.
- There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.
- There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.
- The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.
- The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.
- There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.
- There will be no lowering of current international standards.
- Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.
- The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.
- There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.
That all sounds quite wonderful, doesn’t it? The only problem is that the promise is being made by none other than the Obama administration, which is just about the least trustworthy source it could possibly come from.
After all, I bet a lot of people thought Obama was serious about stopping the warrantless wiretapping, when it turns out he is fighting to keep it by utilizing the tired state secret claim despite the testimony of former NSA employees.
I bet a lot of people thought he was serious about stopping the medical marijuana raids, the countless wars (which show no signs of stopping), the overwhelming lobbyist influence in Washington and submitting his administration to a previously unknown level of transparency.
Of course, all of this is patently untrue as you can see from the above links. If you believe that the Obama administration will suddenly become trustworthy, I believe that it is quite unlikely that any amount of factual evidence will get you to think otherwise.
Yet, even if we accept the Obama administration’s alleged redlines as truthful (which is a stretch), it must be noted that several American allies disagree with some of these positions.
The governments of the UK, France, Germany and Sweden all released a joint position this week which states, “We believe that an arms trade treaty should cover all types of conventional weapons, notably including small arms and light weapons, all types of munitions, and related technologies.”
Furthermore, CNS News notes, “On the issue of consensus, the Control Arms coalition also wants the conference to follow usual U.N. practice, requiring ‘wide agreement’ on a final text but not giving countries veto power.”
This means that the United States could easily have each and everyone one of those redlines crossed while still claiming something to the effect of, “Well, at least we did the best we could!”
They also point out that a quite venerable coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including Oxfam (cited above by Johnson) and Amnesty International (AI), has stated that not only must the treaty be enforceable but include international reporting of sales and a mechanism with which to monitor compliance with the treaty.
Is it just me or does that sound a lot like it would violate this redline, “There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT,” doesn’t it?
“Our common goal is clear: a robust and legally-binding arms trade treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Of course, he does not believe that “people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence,” actually have the right to defend themselves, instead handing the sole power over to the UN. No surprise there.
I just caution my readers to realize and tell others that trusting the Obama administration to stick to these redlines – even if the Obama administration had veto power, which it doesn’t – is horribly misguided and naïve.
This article originally appeared on End the Lie