UPDATE: U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, After Review Draft has ‘Major Loopholes’

Over the past few days, activists in the international community who support a comprehensive and robust United Nation Arms Trade Treaty have slammed the latest draft for being too lenient.  But they’re not alone in their discontent, skeptics of the ATT are also complaining about language that may call for the regulation of conventional arms. 

“Every major element … has major loopholes,” said Peter Herby, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross arms unit. “There is a very high risk this treaty will simply ratify the status quo, rather than changing the status quo.”

“Rather than producing the highest possible international standards for the transfer of all conventional weapons, it would allow many countries to simply continue doing what they’re doing,” Herby added.

ammoThe deadline for the final version is the Friday.  In order for the ATT to be ratified, a consensus must be reached by the 193 U.N. members, a tough task considering the differing opinions on what should and should not be included. 

Ammunition, which is not included in the latest draft, remains a hot-button topic. 

Anna Macdonald, head of arms control at the British-based aid agency Oxfam, believes that ammunition must be included if the ATT is to accomplish its goal. 

Additionally, she pointed out that the rules governing risk assessments that countries must do before authorizing an arms sale needed to be tightened; and the whole treaty needed to be broadened to cover the entire global arms trade and not just illicit transactions.

“Our concern with this text is that at the moment it has more holes than a leaky bucket,” Macdonald told reporters. “And if these holes are not closed we won’t end up with a treaty that saves lives.”

The head of arms control and human rights at Amnesty International, Brian Wood, agreed with Macdonald with respect to the inclusion of ammunition.  He believes that it was left out at the behest of the United States. 

“It’s no secret that the United States government has been the one that resisted the inclusion of ammunition,” he told the Associated Press.  

guns-UN“We know that President Obama is sitting on the key to the door … and the question of the ammunition is a decision that President Obama will make,” he said.

Meanwhile, and as mentioned, there have been reports in the gun community that the ATT calls for the regulation of “small arms and light weapons,” something many gun owners feared. 

According to Examiner.com, a section of the ATT entitled “Scope” requires each nation to develop a “national control list” that includes those “small arms and light weapons” (see document here):

Each State Party shall define on a national basis the above items, taking into account descriptions in relevant UN instruments at a minimum. Each State Party shall establish, publish and maintain a national control list that shall include the items that fall within Paragraph 1 above.

The document goes on to state that each nation must keep track of all weapons from the time they are manufactured until the time they are destroyed. 

If this is clause is what it appears to be, regulation of civilian arms, and if it makes the final draft, then the ATT has little chance of being adopted by the U.S.  Already, there are 58 Senators who’ve vowed to vote against any treaty that tramples on the right to keep and bear arms. 

“We have been making clear throughout our red lines (limits), including that we will not accept any treaty that infringes on Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” a U.S. official who did not want to be identified told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Hopefully, we’ll have a final draft on Friday.  Then we can make an informed assessment, once and for all, about the breadth and the scope of the ATT.

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