Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed Monday that the administration is raring to sign the controversial UN Arms Trade Treaty.
Delegates from other nations began signing the regulatory document today. The treaty was approved by the General Assembly on April 2.
Obama reversed the course of the George W. Bush administration in October 2009, supporting negotiations at the UN for the Arms Trade Treaty that began in 2001 with the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Lawmakers and lobbyists have expressed alarm that the treaty, which aims to regulate international trade in conventional weapons, threatens the right to bear arms as well as U.S. sovereignty.
“The United States welcomes the opening of the Arms Trade Treaty for signature, and we look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” Kerry said today.
“The Treaty is an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights. The Treaty will require the parties to implement strict controls, of the kind the United States already has in place, on the international transfer of conventional arms to prevent their diversion and misuse and create greater international cooperation against black market arms merchants. The ATT will not undermine the legitimate international trade in conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe on the rights of American citizens, including our Second Amendment rights,” he continued.
“We commend the Presidents of the two UN negotiating conferences – Roberto Garcia Moritan of Argentina and Peter Woolcott of Australia –for their leadership in bringing this agreement to fruition. We also congratulate all the states that helped achieve an effective, implementable Treaty that will reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes.”
Ratification of the treaty, even if the U.S. signs it, is another matter.
Last week, 130 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama and Kerry urging them to stand against the treaty.
“As your review of the treaty continues, we strongly encourage your administration to recognize its textual, inherent and procedural flaws, to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, and to defend the sovereignty of the United States, and thus to decide not to sign this treaty,” the lawmakers wrote.