How to Curb the Arms Trade With a Treaty?

The problem:  Conventional weapons are sold to the highest bidder, destabilizing countries, harming civilians, and undermining the rule of law.  (Heard of Viktor Bout, for example?)

The opposition: despots and terrorists, the NRA, US Senate and a few others.

But after two weeks of intensive negotiations — already in overtime after bartering last July failed — participants said the prospect for unanimous consensus among member states remained uncertain. Without that, negotiators would probably seek approval by winning support from two-thirds of General Assembly members at a vote next week.

Some states, like Iran and Syria, have consistently raised objections — evidently because the treaty could well endanger the legality of arms transfers to Damascus given the heavy civilian toll in Syria’s civil war.

India had wanted language stating that the treaty could not be used to suspend weapons transfers under existing defense cooperation agreements. The compromise language states that the treaty should not be used to break such agreements, but that any transfers must meet with its criteria.

Big arms exporters, like Russia and China, initially raised questions about the provisions tying sales to human rights criteria that might be subject to interpretation. Last summer, the Obama administration raised objections to the treaty that helped to force postponement of the talks.

The National Rifle Association, along with its allies in Congress, has long opposed the treaty, asserting it would impinge on the constitutional right to bear arms, an argument that treaty proponents dispute.

via U.N. Close To Curbing Arms Trade With Treaty – NYTimes.com.

So this is what consensus looks like: Lots of disagreements to lay on the table, then discussions–usually in the corridors, lobbies and receptions–and an agreement emerges (or doesn’t).  This is how diplomacy works, not too dissimilar from politics.

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8 thoughts on “How to Curb the Arms Trade With a Treaty?

  1. acpotts says:

    The NRA believes this treaty will infringe on the right to bear arms. I disagree with that. Now, maybe it will impede our ability to obtain certain kinds of guns. However, depending on which guns those are, I’m not necessarily against that. Some guns should only be available to armies. Unfortunately, I’m not very knowledgeable on gun control, so hopefully someone who has a much better idea of what they’re talking about could make a more valuable contribution than me.

  2. Now i will say that I am a supporter of the NRA, but i do believe that they sometimes have the tendency to have a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to any type of weapon being regulated. I don’t necessarily believe that this treaty will be something that directly infringes upon the 2nd amendment. I do believe that the sales of tanks, grenades, and other major weapon systems should be regulated. There are many examples in history that show that selling people weapons and it backfiring later. The really difficult part of these treaty is who will regulate it and how. Although it is going to be a law, laws don’t really matter much if they’re not enforced.

  3. robertnishan says:

    I think it’s interesting that each American citizen requires a background check to buy a gun, and yet there is a good amount of free trade for tanks and heavy artillery. There’s a great deal of buzz concerning the regulations of guns within the states, but outside of the country, arms are sold with not nearly the same amount of caution. What is also interesting is that guns that are sold to other countries are not going to be used for sport or hunting. Almost definitely the guns that are sold abroad are for was. Perhaps I don’t know enough about this issue, but it seems that there needs to be an evaluation on how guns are treated when they are sold to other countries.

  4. emilyjackson830 says:

    I find it funny that the NRA is opposing this treaty. I get that they dont want their weapons regulated and all that jazz, but all this treaty is trying to do is keep the guns out of the wrong hands. What is the harm in that? In my opinion, I think thats a good idea. Lets keep more of our people safe from people that are out to make a statement, even if that means using gun violence.

  5. tylersearle91 says:

    WHy does the NRA care so much about this arms treaty? The article mentions keeping a list of exports of small arms and that exportation of ammunition will be regulated, but that’s really all as far as I can tell that relates to the type of arms every day average citizens are bearing. Tanks? Missiles? Attack Helicopters? Sure, maybe bullet prices will rise, but really? What does the second amendment have to do with arms in other countries?

  6. kelseyclark says:

    In reading this treaty, there are significant loopholes. For example, the treaty only focuses on regulating the sale of arms, but conventional arms can be transferred, given as gifts, titled as loans, or given as leases and aid. I agree with Senator John Cornyn when he said that the treaty contained “unnecessarily harsh treatment of civilian-owned small arms and violated the right to self-defense and United States sovereignty.” I think that the treaty is too idealistic. It is written under the pretenses of human rights, but will infringe upon sovereignty.

    Ronald Reagan said, “When dictators come to power, the first thing they do is take away the people’s weapons….I do no believe that [our world’s leaders] have any desire to impose a dictatorship upon us. But this does not mean that such will always be the case. A nations rent internally, as ours has been in recent years, is always ripe for a ‘man on a white horse.’ A deterrent to that man, or to any man [or institution] seeking unlawful power, is the knowledge that those who oppose him [them] are not helpless.”

    I do not want other countries given authority over our weapons. It will just lead to a slippery slope.

    It is not weapons that kill people. People kill people.

  7. Taylor Shippen says:

    I think it should be remembered that the NRA is primarily interested in protecting the industry that it represents. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of weapons, last year it is estimated that we exported 9 billion dollars worth of weapons to foreign nations, putting us just ahead of Russia. Surprise, surprise, Russia wasn’t real excited about the treaty either, though my guess is that a treaty would do very little to stop Russia from selling its weapons indirectly to undesirables.

    For that reason alone, it seems futile to sign treaties of who sells to who. Restricting the sales of weapons only creates a more profitable black market in the weapons economy, creating greater incentive for private firms to enter the market. As for the NRA, using the second amendment as a cover to maintain sales numbers seems pretty low; but no one wants to argue that Smith & Wesson’s profit margins are more important than combating violence against children.

  8. This is an interesting article. I agree that something needs to be done in the trading of weapons. I agree with Kelsey that people are ultimately responsible for killing people, however that does not change the fact that most people kill people with weapons. The amount of civil wars that are supported by weapons from other countries is crazy and, although they may not be completely preventable, the amount of deaths would undoubtedly decrease without weapons.

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