U.N. adopts arms treaty

To the chagrin of the NRA, the U.S. backs treaty demanding member states enforce stricter controls on gun exports

Published April 2, 2013 6:08PM (EDT)


On Tuesday, 153 U.N. member states agreed to adopt an arms treaty aimed at ensuring tighter regulations on the international arms trade. The treaty requires signed-on states to create internal mechanisms to ensure that exported arms don't end up in the hands of states or militias that are likely to use them in violation of humanitarian law.

Despite the fact that the treaty has no impact on the Second Amendment as it in no way relates to gun sales or ownership domestically, the U.S. gun lobby fought the treaty. As the Hill noted, "In one of the amendments to the Senate Budget last month, lawmakers voted 53 to 46 to stop the United States from joining the treaty."

The treaty had three unsurprising dissenters (Syria, Iran, North Korea) and 23 abstentions. As the AP noted, "what impact the treaty will have in reining in the estimated $60 billion global arms trade, however, remains to be seen":

The treaty will take effect soon after 50 countries ratify it – and a lot will depend on which countries ratify and which don't, and how stringently it is implemented.

Britain and a small group of treaty supporters sought a vote in the 193-member world body after Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked its adoption by consensus at a negotiating conference last Thursday. The three countries voted "no" on Tuesday's resolution while Russia and China, both major arms exporters, abstained.

Many countries, including the United States, which voted for the treaty, control arms exports. But there has never been an international treaty regulating the global arms trade.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Arms Trade Arms Treaty Guns Control Nra U.n.