An American conservative think tank says an arms trade treaty being discussed at the United Nations this month is inefficient, unrealistic and could ultimately legitimize the rights of dictatorial regimes to buy and sell arms.
International delegates at UN headquarters in New York will be negotiating a potential Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which would regulate international weapons transfers and aim to curb the flow of weapons to human rights abusers.
While the treaty has already received strong statements of support from African nations, much of Latin American and many European states, conservative organizations and pressure groups in the US like the Heritage Foundation and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have been vocal opponents of a possible deal. In particular, both groups have opposed efforts to include the regulation of international small arms and ammunition purchases into the text.
Dr. Ted R. Bromund of the Heritage Foundation says the ATT would not compel countries to raise their standards in the arms trade market any more so than a Security Council resolutions and embargoes already in place.
“The fact is that many UN member states have neither the desire nor the ability to raise their standards,” Bromund told the UN conference Wednesday. “It is a fantasy to believe that a universal ATT backed by nothing more than the words of the treaty itself will succeed where the UN security council backed ultimately by the authority of Chapter 7 has failed,” he said.
“Indeed, the ATT will legitimize the worst aspects of the arms trade by inserting that the UN charter recognizes the right of even dictatorial nations to buy and sell and transfer arms,” Bromund added.
Wayne Lapierre, President of the NRA, told the UN conference the treaty would eventually be a threat to second amendment rights, even if it explicitly excluded any conditions or measure on national gun ownership laws.
Statements by international aid organization and humanitarian groups at the conference provided a sharp contrast to the NRA and Heritage Foundation interpretations of the treaty.
“This treaty will save lives and livelihoods,” Anna McDonald, Head of Arms Control Oxfam said afterwards. “We need to take every opportunity to fully participate in negotiations and make a difference in world, which requires the active engaging of all diplomats here.”