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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs