Several countries joined the call to regulate the international trade of conventional weapons this week with the signing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, an agreement that will make governments responsible for the flow of small arms, ammunition, military equipment and more across their borders.
Argentina, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Namibia, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Uruguay ratified the agreement, bringing the total number of sponsoring nations to 50 and setting a 90-day timer for the treaty to go into effect.
Proponents like Amnesty International say the treaty will help to keep weapons in the estimated $55-billion-a-year industry out of the hands of criminals and human rights abusers bent on genocide.
The Defense Small Arms Advisory Council — a military manufacturers trade organization with a seat at the U.N. — is in opposition of the treaty as it stands because of the implications an international could have on gun owners’ rights in the United Sates.
“For example, manufacturers in Europe of sporting arms could see (it) becoming more difficult to export to the United States because we don’t require an end user certificate — name, address, date of birth, etc,” Allen Youngman, executive director of the advisory council, told Guns.com at the Second Amendment Foundation’s Guns Rights Policy Conference in Chicago on Saturday.
Youngman doesn’t see the U.S. ratifying the treaty anytime soon because it is already in compliance with the treaty in terms of carefully scrutinizing export license applications, which is the key goal of the treaty, he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty last September, saying it is a significant step in curbing the illegal trade of arms.
“This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors. This is about reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes. This is about keeping Americans safe and keeping America strong,” Kerry said.
Rasha Abul-Rahim of Amnesty International thinks that though the U.S. has a large pro-gun population, it has taken steps to further regulate conventional arms sales.
“Basically the directive pledges not to export arms where there’s a likelihood that the weapons transferred will be likely to be used for genocide or other atrocities, or will be used to violate human rights law or international humanitarian law,” Abul-Rahim told german publication Deutsch Welle on Thursday. “This is a positive development and an indication that the U.S. could ratify in the future.”