The UN Arms Trade Treaty is dead. The US delegation to the arms trade conference backed out at the last minute. They said they needed more time to consider its text. Three other delegations (Russia, Indonesia, and India) said the same. The putative President probably pulled the treaty so that he wouldn’t have to send it to the Senate until after the election.
UN Arms Trade Treaty conference ends
Today was the deadline for an agreement on a UN arms trade treaty. The first drafts came out on Tuesday of this week, and again yesterday. They mentioned “small arms and light weapons” among eight classes of weapons that the UN proposed to regulate. At last report, fifty-one Senators were on record to vote against the treaty if the putative President ever asked the Senate to ratify it.
At 5:44 p.m. EDT, Foreign Policy first reported that the UN arms trade conference had failed to agree on a treaty text. Thomas Countryman, the lead US delegate, told his fellow delegates that the US government needed more time.
The flag of the United Nations. (Public domain as per UN policy.)
Gun control advocates, of course, reacted bitterly. The head of the Arms Control Association blamed putative President Barack H. Obama for failing to lead effectively on the issue. The head of Oxfam said much the same:
Moving forward, [putative] President Obama must show the political courage [he needs] to make a strong treaty that contains strong rules on human rights a reality.
Nick Purpura, of Wall Township, New Jersey, told CNAV that
Obama made a very intelligent political move. Do you really think he wanted to take this [UN Arms Trade Treaty] to the election?
The Foreign Policy report quoted unnamed “diplomats” as saying that the US wanted to delay sending any treaty to the Senate for six months. That would put the treaty off until after the election. But until then, gun sales in the US will not be subject to international regulation.
Obama could have signed the treaty anyway, and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Floor Leader, could have put off a formal vote until a “lame duck session” after the election. Obama could then have cited the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties to excuse setting up a national gun registry, to comply with the treaty’s terms. That he did not do this means:
- Obama and/or Reid were afraid that not enough of those 51 Senators would change their minds in the next five months.
- Reid was afraid that if he held up the vote on some phony parliamentary pretext, voters would see through that and make sure that he would be Minority Floor Leader next year.
- Too many Senate Democrats were afraid of losing their jobs. (Some blame then-President Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban for the Republican takeover of both Houses of Congress in 1994.)
Purpura told CNAV that he waited out several busy signals to get through to the offices of Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (both D-NJ) to complain about the UN Arms Trade Treaty. Frank Lautenberg’s staff would likely never listen. But Robert Menendez is up for re-election this year, and has never made as much noise on gun control as has Lautenberg.