U.N. Adopts the Arms Trade Treaty
Yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). To borrow a word (not so) affectionately used by Secretary of State John Kerry to describe his fellow Americans, the adoption of this treaty can legitimately be called “stupid.”
[W]hat the U.N. vote amounts to is the tacit rejection of the treaty by most of the world’s most irresponsible arms exporters and anti-American dictatorships, who collectively amount to half of the world’s population.
Thus, it’s not appropriate for Kerry to gloat about the ATT as he did yesterday:
The Treaty adopted today will establish a common international standard for the national regulation of the international trade in conventional arms and require all states to develop and implement the kind of systems that the United States already has in place. It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
It looks like someone needs to remove the rose-colored sunglasses. Heritage’s Ted. R Bromund does not share Kerry’s undue optimism about the ATT and explains:
The problem with the ATT was always that it would end up constraining the U.S. (and other democracies), but not the genuinely dangerous, lawless, and irresponsible regimes in the world. The fact that these regimes abstained or voted against the treaty is proof of that point: They have openly stated that they have no intention of being bound by the ATT.
Secretary Kerry added:
By its own terms, this treaty applies only to international trade, and reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate arms within its territory. As the United States has required from the outset of these negotiations, nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
But he needs a strong dose of realism, because the treaty in its final form was still flawed. For example:
Article 5.3 defines small arms and light weapons by reference to U.N. instruments that do not include the civilian exemption provided by the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms. This is a very undesirable change.
And the scope of the treaty is bound to widen, which some of its language indicates:
Article 17.4(a) on conferences of nations party to the treaty states that such conferences shall review “developments in the field of conventional arms.” This is an open notice that efforts will be made as soon as possible to expand the scope of the treaty.
This treaty is historic, alright. But history isn’t always pretty, and it’s anything but clear that this will bode well for the U.S.