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Kerry Signs Arms Treaty, Senators Threaten to Block It


September 27, 2013
Fox News & Amnesty International & The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Secretary of State John Kerry on signed a controversial UN treaty on arms regulation, calling the global treaty a "significant step" in addressing illegal gun sale -- and riling US lawmakers who vow the Senate will not ratify the agreement. What impact the treaty will have in curbing the estimated $60 billion global arms trade remains to be seen.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/25/kerry-signs-un-arms-treaty-senators-threaten-to-block-it/

* 12 billion bullets are produced every year. Almost 2 for every person on the planet.

* 74% of the world's weapons are wupplied by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (2010 arms deliveries by value, to nearest whole percentage).
Source: Congressional Research Service).

* There are 815 million guns in the world.

* 26 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of armed conflict.

* 60% of human rights violations involve small arms or light weapons.

* 1 person every minute is killed by armed violence.


Kerry Signs UN Arms Treaty,
Senators Threaten to Block It

Fox News & The Associated Press

(September 25, 2013) -- Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday signed a controversial UN treaty on arms regulation, riling US lawmakers who vow the Senate will not ratify the agreement.

As he signed the document, Kerry called the treaty a "significant step" in addressing illegal gun sales, while claiming it would also protect gun rights.

"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," he said. "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."

US lawmakers, though, have long claimed the treaty could lead to new gun control measures. They note the US Senate has final say on whether to approve the agreement.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in a letter to President Obama, urged his administration not to take any action to implement the treaty without the consent of the Senate.

He claimed the treaty raises "fundamental issues" concerning "individual rights protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution."

The National Rifle Association blasted the plan, claiming it would impose an "invasive registration scheme" by requiring importing countries to give exporting countries information on "end users."

"The Obama administration is once again demonstrating its contempt for our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms," Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. "These are blatant attacks on the constitutional rights and liberties of every law-abiding American. The NRA will continue to fight this assault on our fundamental freedom."

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the most vocal opponents of the treaty, also sent a letter to Kerry declaring the treaty "dead in the water," since a majority of senators has gone on record against the agreement.

"The administration is wasting precious time trying to sign away our laws to the global community and unelected UN bureaucrats," he wrote.

Kerry, who is in New York attending the UN General Assembly session, announced earlier this year that the administration planned to sign the treaty.

The treaty would require countries that ratify it to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and components and to regulate arms brokers, but it will not explicitly control the domestic use of weapons in any country.

Still, gun-rights supporters on Capitol Hill warn the treaty could be used as the basis for additional gun regulations inside the US and have threatened not to ratify.

Over the summer, 130 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama and Kerry urging them to reject the measure for this and other reasons.

The chance of adoption by the US is slim. A two-thirds majority would be needed in the Senate to ratify.

What impact the treaty will have in curbing the estimated $60 billion global arms trade remains to be seen. The UN treaty will take effect after 50 countries ratify it, and a lot will depend on which ones ratify and which ones don't, and how stringently it is implemented.

The Control Arms Coalition, which includes hundreds of non-governmental organizations in more than 100 countries that promoted an Arms Trade Treaty, has said it expects many of the world's top arms exporters -- including Britain, Germany and France -- to sign alongside emerging exporters such as Brazil and Mexico. It said the United States is expected to sign later this year.

The coalition notes that more than 500,000 people are killed by armed violence every year and predicted that "history will be made" when many UN members sign the treaty, which it says is designed "to protect millions living in daily fear of armed violence and at risk of rape, assault, displacement and death."

Many violence-wracked countries, including Congo and South Sudan, are also expected to sign. The coalition said their signature -- and ratification -- will make it more difficult for illicit arms to cross borders.

The treaty covers battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.

It prohibits states that ratify it from transferring conventional weapons if they violate arms embargoes or if they promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The treaty also prohibits the export of conventional arms if they could be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.

In addition, the treaty requires countries to take measures to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons to the illicit market. This is among the provisions that gun-rights supporters in Congress are concerned about.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



A Critical Step towards Arms Control
Amnesty International

The US commitment is a critical step forward for the ATT process, ensuring that the majority of future arms exports will be ATT-compliant. Added to the signatures of some 86 other countries, the US signature carries weight proportionate to its outsize role in the arms trade.

Amnesty International has advocated for an ATT with strong human rights protections for upwards of two decades. Treaties help shape international expectations and behavior, and this treaty is a major step toward enshrining human rights concerns explicitly in international law.

While Amnesty International USA will continue to advocate strongly for US ratification, the signature and its attendant commitment confers increased legitimacy on the ATT. Crucially, it also increases international political pressure on other nations, such as Russia and China, to add their signatures and declare their intentions.

Now we all need to recommit ourselves to fighting for the effective implementation of the treaty and to making sure that the treaty’s words do not just stay on paper.

It's Official: US Signs UN Arms Trade Treaty
Nate Smith / Amnesty International USA

WSHINGTON, DC (September 25, 2013) -- In an important step forward for human rights and international law, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on behalf of the United States earlier today.

Coming in the midst of concerns about the supply of weapons to Syrian government and Syrian rebels, Kerry’s signature signals the intention of the US, the world’s largest arms exporter, to abide by the terms of the treaty.

The treaty unequivocally bans arms transfers that are in violation of a UN arms embargo or that exporters have reason to know will be used to commit genocide and other grievous war crimes.

Under the treaty, all exporting states have a new obligation to assess the risk that the weapons they provide will be used in human rights abuse and to halt such transfers where that risk is overwhelming.

The US commitment is a critical step forward for the ATT process, ensuring that the majority of future arms exports will be ATT-compliant. Added to the signatures of some 86 other countries, the US signature carries weight proportionate to its outsize role in the arms trade.

Amnesty International has advocated for an ATT with strong human rights protections for upwards of two decades. Treaties help shape international expectations and behavior, and this treaty is a major step toward enshrining human rights concerns explicitly in international law.

While Amnesty International USA will continue to advocate strongly for US ratification, the signature and its attendant commitment confers increased legitimacy on the ATT. Crucially, it also increases international political pressure on other nations, such as Russia and China, to add their signatures and declare their intentions.

Now we all need to recommit ourselves to fighting for the effective implementation of the treaty and to making sure that the treaty’s words do not just stay on paper.


Weapons King:
The US Is Again the World's Top Arms Merchant

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(August 28, 2012) -- In a world full of unmet human needs, too much is spent on military weapons, the bulk of which comes from the United States. A study released Friday by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service said that America is again the world's top arms dealer, with $66.3 billion in sales in 2011, the largest in its history.

The total was three times that of 2010 and 78 percent of the world market. Russia was second, with $4.8 billion, only 6 percent. Developing countries made 84 percent of the purchases. The United States sold them 79 percent of the total, or $56.3 billion worth.

Top US customers were Persian Gulf states including Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, frightened into buying aircraft and other systems by American, Iranian and Israeli saber-rattling. India and Taiwan were other US clients.

Arms sales have important implications for both buying and selling countries. For the buyers, particularly developing countries, money spent on arms leaves less for education, health care, infrastructure and other items that could improve their people's standard of living.

The cost of war between poor countries, such as Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, even India and Pakistan, and in civil wars such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria is paid for in humanitarian terms.

For Americans, these sales should raise questions as to whether the United States belongs at the top of the list of the world's arms merchants, particularly to countries of the developing world.

It is not clear that the $66.3 billion in weapons exports are a net plus for America, since the Department of Defense, which consumes at least 20 percent of the US budget, must serve as the primary sales agent for the big arms makers and dealers.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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