North-Korea, Iran and Syria delay the arms control treaty

During the last weeks, diplomats from all over the world came to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York to discuss the international arms treaty, as we blogged in a previous post.

Many countries, including the United States, control arms exports, but there has never been an international treaty regulating the estimated $60bn global arms trade. For more than a decade, activists and some governments have been pushing for international rules to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of anti-state fighters and organised crime.

Last weekend, it became clear that Iran, Syria and North-Korea have blocked the new arms treaty which was proposed by Kenya. These 3 countries are known for their weapon embargoes and their decreasing human rights situation on a local level. The international treaty which they blocked now was meant to prevent these kinds of gruesome deeds.

It is a frustration on a global level that such small minorities can decide on such an important issue, which can save lives. A light at the tunnel is that 197 countries did vote for this treaty, and that is something to celebrate. After years and years of lobbying, we are very close to a treaty which makes rules for trading weapons.

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Comment by Silvana M. Pellegrini Adam on April 4, 2013 at 4:31am
NRA opposes U.N. arms treaty!! -
The National Rifle Association, which is battling a raft of gun control measures on Capitol Hill, also has an international fight on its hand as it gears up to oppose a U.N. treaty designed to restrict the flow of arms to conflict zones.
Negotiations open Monday in New York on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would require countries to determine whether weapons they se...ll would be used to commit serious human rights violations, terrorism or transnational organized crime. The gun lobby fears that the treaty would be used to regulate civilian weapons. Human rights activists counter that it would reduce the trafficking of weapons, including small arms such as the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, to outlaw regimes and rebel groups engaged in atrocities against civilian populations. “This treaty is a common-sense alignment of the interests of governments, law-abiding citizens and individuals all over the world, who deserve the right to live free from harm,” said Michelle A. Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs at Amnesty International USA. “Any step toward restraining the illicit sale and transfer of weapons used to commit horrific crimes is a good move forward, and the world could use a lot more steps in the direction of ending human rights abuses.” The Obama administration, which has wavered on the treaty, signaled Friday that it was willing to support the accord. “The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in a statement. “We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment.” The NRA is among the treaty’s most vocal opponents and a founder of the World Forum on Shooting Activities, an international coalition of gun rights activists and gun manufacturers who plan to speak against the treaty. “What we really object to is the inclusion of civilian firearms within the scope of the ATT,” said Tom Mason, the group’s executive secretary and a lawyer who has represented the NRA at U.N. meetings for nearly two decades. “This is a treaty that really needs to address the transfer of large numbers of military weapons that leads to human rights abuses. We have submitted language that you can define what a civilian firearm is.” The NRA also argues that the treaty could infringe on gun rights as understood in the United States and could force Americans onto an international registry. Activists say the NRA wants to gut the treaty. “The NRA claim that there is such a thing as ‘civilian weapons’ and that these can and need to be treated differently from military weapons under the Arms Trade Treaty is — to put it politely — the gun lobby’s creativity on full display,” Ringuette said in a statement. “There is no such distinction. To try to create one would create a loophole that would render the treaty inoperative, as anyone could claim that he or she was in the business of trading ‘civilian weapons.’”
Picture: "There are many benefits to shooting with a silencer or suppressor. One common benefit becomes apparent when teaching children to shoot. This image, from the NFATCA, shows a young child learning to shot with a silencer. The reduced noise and recoil make it an ideal way to teach children or new shooter how to shot without having to deal with the typical issues that arise from the noise and recoil that are traditionally associated with shooting." -
Comment by Elhadi Abdalla Mohamed on April 1, 2013 at 1:01am

International treaties should not be tailored and signed for one or two nations. I guess if 197 nations signed this treaty, the world is going to be a better place. However, it all goes back to what Silvana mentioned in her post, the UN as a system is too weak to ensure compliance to the treaty, and even the 197 nation who voiced support for the treaty might not be genuinely for it. North Korea, Syria and Iran, represent an important part of the problem, but we can not definitely attribute all the world-wide illegal arms trade to them. Let us take one step at a time to resolve our problem if we can have the political will and capacity to do that.

Comment by GOPI KANTA GHOSH on March 31, 2013 at 11:23pm

It is because those who matter do not listen to UN

Comment by Silvana M. Pellegrini Adam on March 31, 2013 at 1:30pm

I do not know whether to be optimistic or not but we have unfortunately seen UN failed several times - even when there has been unanimous agreement on something - there must be a change of power relations within the individual states / countries before the UN is useful. Just as when human rights are being broken on an equal footing  the UN can do nothing r.g. when Pyongyang, North Korea condemns South Korea for involvement meant in UN commission of inquiry into human rights.
For a treaty on arms control worldwide should also be aware that even if a country has a righteous arms control illegal weapons prevents them not to lease cargo ships to foreign companies who ship illegal goods and / or support illegal milli monetary actions. N. Korea just close there borders and say UN is not our problem.
If the UN has to resume its former strength, we must be able to trust that the diplomats and politicians that participate in the UN has the power and strength to carry out the decisions that are taken when they return to their country, otherwise it is worthless.

Comment by Elhadi Abdalla Mohamed on March 31, 2013 at 9:15am

Please excuse my ignorance regarding the details of the treaty specifics and negotiations, but if 197 countries are willing to sign a treaty that regulates and controls the international arms trade, why should only three countries be able to block the signing of such a treaty? This is just an innocent question to understand the circumstances...many international treaties are effectively in place now despite the fact that they are not fully signed or ratified by all nations.

Comment by GOPI KANTA GHOSH on March 31, 2013 at 8:41am

They may agree if entire world does i

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