Breaking News: US Signs the Arms Trade Treaty!

US Secretary of State John Kerry just signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty a few minutes ago (for more details, click here) This is a major victory for the Control Arms campaign, a coalition of humanitarian agencies, faith groups and thinktanks advocating for a regulations that would prevent the sale of conventional arms to human right abusers, drug traffickers and organized crime bosses. For an analysis of why the Arms Trade Treaty is good for US security, not just human rights, read this article I wrote for The Hill earlier this year.

“Today’s signing of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United States is a significant victory for human rights and development,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, a member of the Control Arms coalition.  “The US is the world’s foremost arms exporter, and US signature is a powerful step demonstrating the United States’ commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict.”

Oxfam America released a report today — “Saving Lives with Common Sense” — which calls on the US Senate to now ratify the treaty: “because it is in the US interest: it prevents the harm resulting from illicit and irresponsible arms transfers without impeding legitimate arms trade or interfering with domestic US firearms rights.”

Getting the US to sign its first multilateral arms treaty since 1996 also represents a victory for broader civil society efforts to make the world a  safer, more humane place through international law and cooperation. Only a year ago, the prospects of a strong Arms Trade Treaty looked bleak and the US was wavering on its commitment to negotiate an effective agreement. Credit for this milestone of international law goes to the activists, faith leaders, philanthropists and idealists who changed the conversation about conventional weapons, making us think about the humanitarian impact of an unchecked market in weapons.

~ by Matthew Bolton on 25 September 2013.

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