US signs global arms control treaty

US Secretary of State says it about keeping America safe, but some American lawmakers fear it could jeopardize constitutional rights of US citizens

US signs global arms control treaty

World Bulletin/News Desk

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday signed a U.N. treaty on arms regulation, calling it a "significant step" in addressing illegal gun sales.

"This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors," Kerry said at the signing ceremony at the United Nations in New York.

The treaty is reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that could be used to carry out the world's worst crimes, US Secretary of State said.

As the world's biggest arms exporter, the United States joined more than half of UN member states who have already signed the treaty. So far, 89 of them signed the treaty, only 4 months since the treaty opened for signature. This number is expected to rise to over 100 by the end of Wednesday's signing ceremony.

The Arms Trade Treaty is the first ever multilateral treaty on the global trade in conventional arms and ammunition, requiring governments to establish common standards for the international trade of weapons.

“This is about keeping Americans safe and keeping America strong," Kerry stressed.

Still controversial in US

Addressing at the same time a hot domestic issue of protecting the gun rights -- which is already riling some Republican lawmakers who vow the Senate will not ratify the agreement -- US Secretary of State went to explain 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.

But, some members of the US Congress have claimed that the treaty could lead to new gun control measures which are very unpopular in America. US Senate has final to ratify and to approve the agreement.

Signing of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United States was almost immediately welcomed by Control Arms Coalition (CAC) of over 100 member organizations around the world.

CAC urged the US to live up to the spirit of the treaty by not authorizing any transfer of weapons to countries where there is a major risk of violation of the international human rights and humanitarian law, such as in the current conflict in Syria.

Syria as an example

"The most powerful argument for the Arms Trade Treaty continues to be the call of the millions who have suffered from armed violence around the world," said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director speaking at a High-Level meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York.

"The Arms Trade Treaty will not reverse history in Syria but the past shows us that it can prevent the fuelling of future conflicts," Buyanyima said, adding no where is the need for an effective treaty so apparent as in the devastating humanitarian crisis in Syria.

More than two years of war has killed more than 100,000 people in Syria and over seven million needs humanitarian aid.

The Treaty creates binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers against the risk that weapons will be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organized crime or violations of humanitarian law.

Strict regulations

It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a major risk that countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.

It is the first ever global answer to the "inadequate patchwork system of national laws," regional initiatives, and country-specific embargoes that "have failed to effectively control the world’s deadliest trade up to now," says Oxfam statement sent to the journalists in New York.

 

Last Mod: 26 Eylül 2013, 09:24
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