News / USA

US Signs Landmark Arms Treaty at UN

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signs the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty at U.N. headquarters in New York City September 25, 2013. Standing beside him is U.N. Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signs the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty at U.N. headquarters in New York City September 25, 2013. Standing beside him is U.N. Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares.
Reuters
The United States signed a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty regulating the $70 billion global trade in conventional arms on Wednesday and the Obama administration sought to allay the fears of the powerful U.S. gun lobby which says the pact will violate the constitutional rights of Americans.
 
The treaty, which relates only to cross-border trade and aims to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals, still requires ratification by the U.S. Senate and has been attacked by the influential gun rights group the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Among the NRA arguments against the treaty are that it undermines American sovereignty and that it disregards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.
 
The United States, the world's number one arms exporter, became the 91st country to sign when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put pen to paper on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
 
“It's significant that the United States, which amounts for about 80 percent of the world's export in arms, has signed,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told a news conference.
 
The practical implications for U.S. arms manufacturers are likely to be limited since, as Kerry noted, the United States already has in place the kind of strict export controls for weapons that are outlined in the treaty.
 
“We are talking about the kind of export controls that for decades have not diminished one iota our ability in the United States as Americans to exercise our rights under the constitution,” he said.
 
Another 16 nations signed on Wednesday, raising the total to 107, and two more countries ratified the treaty, raising that number to six, Bishop said. Fifty countries need to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force.
 
“This treaty will not diminish anyone's freedom, in fact the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes,” Kerry said after signing the treaty.
 
“Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our constitution,” he said.
 
Arms control activists and rights groups say one person dies every minute as a result of armed violence and the treaty is needed to halt the uncontrolled flow of arms and ammunition that they say fuels wars, atrocities and rights abuses.
 
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aims to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters. It would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law or organized crime.
 
The NRA vowed to oppose ratification in the U.S. Senate, calling the treaty a threat to individual firearm ownership.
 
“These are blatant attacks on the constitutional rights and liberties of every law-abiding American. The NRA will continue to fight this assault on our fundamental freedom,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement.
 
“Unscrupulous Trade”
 
The U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs says the treaty does not “interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession.”
 
The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly approved the treaty on April 2 by a vote of 154 to 3. Russia, China, India and 20 other countries abstained.
 
Rights group Amnesty International USA said it hoped the decision by the United States to sign the treaty would send a signal to Moscow, Beijing and the NRA on the commitment of President Barack Obama's administration to the issue.
 
“The Obama administration is politically committed to ending the unscrupulous trade in deadly weapons used by dictators, war lords and criminal gangs to commit atrocities,” said Amnesty International USA deputy executive director Frank Jannuzi.
 
Aid group Oxfam welcomed the U.S. signing and called on Washington to live up to the spirit of the treaty by not transferring weapons to countries where there is a risk of rights abuses, such as in the Syrian civil war.
 
The White House pledged in June to provide military aid to rebels in Syria. The Syrian Coalition of opposition groups said this month that lethal assistance had been received from the United States. Kerry has said “many items” are reaching the rebels but declined to say what military items were sent.

You May Like

Multimedia Ferguson Grand Jury Reaches Decision

Missourians tensely await ruling on whether white police officer will be indicted in shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid