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UN Arms Trade Treaty 'Full of Holes'

Common Dreams staff

As the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the global arms trade comes to a close today, activists say that the treaty doesn't go far enough and is full of holes while powerful gun interests in the U.S. are fighting back against regulation.


“At the moment, the draft text leaves too much flexibility for States when authorizing an arms sale,” Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, stated. “States must exert all efforts to ensure that arms, as well as ammunition, are not transferred – whereas the current draft only refers to exportation – to countries where there is a substantial risk that they will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

Anna McDonald, head of arms control for Oxfam, emphasized the need for the arms treaty to cover bullets, not just the weapons.

“At the moment, the treaty is covering some weapons but not bullets, which are literally the fuel of conflict,” McDonald told IPS.  “A gun without a bullet is just a heavy metal stick.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” she added. “The U.S. is the government that’s holding out the strongest against the inclusion of ammunition, but it actually regulates its own ammunition exports.”

The powerful gun lobby shot back against possible regulating effects the treaty would have on guns in the U.S.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) led 50 other senators in sending a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to voice their opposition. "Our country’s sovereignty and the rights of American citizens must not be infringed upon by the United Nations,” Sen. Moran said. “Today, the Senate sends a powerful message to the Obama Administration: an Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect ownership of civilian firearms will fail in the Senate. Our firearm freedoms are not negotiable."

The NRA warmly welcomed the comments from the senators.

“The NRA, our four million members and the tens of millions of law-abiding Americans who own firearms will never surrender our right to keep and bear arms to the United Nations,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “That is why the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been met with the full opposition of the NRA. We are grateful for the efforts of these senators, led by Senator Jerry Moran, to oppose this encroachment of international tyranny.”

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