News / USA

    Many US Senators Oppose Ratifying UN Arms Trade Treaty

    Fifty U.S. Senators, half of the Senate’s membership, say they will not ratify a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty signed by the United States. Their opposition to the treaty was expressed in a letter to President Barack Obama.

    The legally-binding treaty sets international standards to regulate the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons - from battle tanks, warships and attack helicopters to small arms and light weapons.

    Ann MacDonald, head of arms control for the humanitarian group Oxfam, said the treaty also covers ammunition.

    “That is really important” she said “because while arms are often recirculated time and time again, and we see this particularly in conflicts in Africa - without ammunition, they are a lot less lethal.  We have seen in some conflicts that the supply of ammunition is literally the fuel that keeps the conflict going,” said MacDonald.

    The Arms Treaty

    • Approved in U.N. General Assembly by a vote of 154 to 3, with 23 abstentions
    • North Korea, Iran and Syria voted against the treaty
    • Regulates trade in conventional arms
    • Does not ban or prohibit the export of any type of weapon
    • Does not impair states' right to self-defense
    The Arms Trade Treaty was passed by the United Nations last April by a vote of 154 to three with 23 abstentions. Only Iran, North Korea and Syria voted against the pact.

    Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, said the pact tries to plug many holes in the international system regulating the conventional arms trade.

    “Many countries don’t have export controls. Many countries that have laws don’t have the ability to enforce.  And then there is the illicit trade, the black market that goes below the radar, below these export control systems of the national governments,” said Kimball. “So the treaty is necessary in order to establish global standards that apply to all states, so that irresponsible arms suppliers and buyers can’t exploit the holes in the national laws.”

    Oxfam's MacDonald said the treaty has an important human rights provision. “For the first time, it sets up a global system that requires governments to assess every arms transfer that is leaving their country, coming into their country or passing through it,” said MacDonald. “They have to assess that transfer against the risk that arms will be used for human rights violations or violations of humanitarian law. And if those risks are very substantial, they must deny the arms transfer.”

    More than 110 countries - including the United States - have signed the treaty since it was open for signature in June. But only a handful [seven] have ratified it.

    In the United States, the National Rifle Association - a powerful gun lobby group - has expressed its opposition to the treaty, as well as 50 U.S. Senators, half of the membership of the upper house. For a treaty to be ratified, it must gain the approval of 67 Senators.

    Opponents of the pact argue that the Arms Trade Treaty infringes on the rights of Americans to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing individual freedoms.

    MacDonald said the treaty is “not about domestic arms control, however, it’s about international transfers. And that’s an important message for Senators to really hear, as well, because sometimes there is misinformation going around that this is a treaty that somehow will have an affect on domestic U.S. gun ownership issues, which it isn’t, because it has to do with international transfers,” she said. “The United States will not need to change its legislation to implement this treaty - the existing U.S. legislation is compatible in many areas with the provisions in the Arms Trade Treaty.”

    Daryl Kimball said in the final analysis, U.S. approval of the treaty is not crucial.

    “Ratification is something that this treaty deserves, eventually. But U.S. ratification is not essential or even necessary for the treaty to enter into force. It just takes 50 states [countries] - any 50 states - for the treaty to legally enter into force,” he said.

    Many analysts say proponents of the treaty will have an uphill battle convincing a majority of U.S. senators to vote for ratification.


    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    October 20, 2013 5:09 PM
    The UN Arms Trade Treaty exists only in the dream world. Most of the countries cannot control arms supply and trade including the US. Even the US cannot control arms trade both within the US and internationally. Anybody, who think that UN can accomplish what other countries cannot do, is living in a dream world. The idealistic President Obama of the US has to be cautioned about the practicality of the UN control of arms trade. It is unbelievable that the US voted for such UN resolution, trampling on the free trade and sovereignty of the US.. My hats off to the US Senators, at least once!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora