Monday, July 18, 2011

A Report From The UN Conference On Arms

Julianne Versnel is the Director of Operations for the Second Amendment Foundation. She, along with Alan Gottlieb, spent all of last week attending the United Nations Third Preparatory Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Here is her report on seeing the draft ATT that was released on Thursday, July 14th.
Today, the most recent Chairman’s Draft Paper for the Arms Trade Treaty was distributed. Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan authored the outline for the proposed ATT based on consultation, discussion and guidelines decided upon in this and the two previous Preparatory Conference meetings. This document dated 14 July 2011 covers the Scope, Criteria, Implementation and Final Provisions that are expected to be in the ATT presented for discussion in July 2012.

The Preamble under item six, “recognizes the sovereign right of States to determine any regulation of internal transfers of arms and national ownership exclusively within their territory, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership.” This language is a direct response to the serious reservations expressed by the U.S. and other delegations.

Unfortunately after this comes the Scope of the proposed treaty. This includes along with tanks, Artillery Systems, Naval Vessels and Missile Systems--small arms and all ammunition for these small arms.

While acknowledging a constitutional right, the criteria and record keeping requirements proposed in the treaty would necessitate the special marking of all firearms (IV, 1, h) and more critically all ammunition (IV, 1, j). The costs involved in both the physical marketing and recordkeeping are enormous. The proposed document also includes the creation of an Implementation Support Unit (VI, G-1) with yearly reporting and records kept for a minimum of 10 years. (V1, B-1).

Another egregious proposal is the Victim Assistance proposal. (VI, F) This provision is one that has been presented repeatedly at Programme of Action and Conference of Parties meetings. Many African, Southern American, Central American and Caribbean countries have proposed that manufacturers contribute to a fund based on their sales. Alternately they would assess fees on countries based on the value of its arms exports.

As the ATT moves closer to its final form, it is imperative that we realize that the technical requirements and definitions still to be determined are very dangerous. Much of the debate on these will take place in side events that are very often closed to NGOs.

The US already has the most stringent import and export requirements for firearms in the world. While this proposed treaty is supposed to be about conventional weapons, the focus in the discussions is on small arms, the very firearms that our US Constitution guarantees us the right to bear.

The Second Amendment Foundation remains vigilant and will continue monitoring this Arms Trade Treaty. We will not remain silent in our fight to maintain your right to keep and right and bear arms. We cannot trust the very organization that devised and administered the oil for food program in Iraq to respect our Constitutional rights—particularly the right to keep and bear arms.

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