Saturday, January 10, 2015

188.4 - Good News: UN Arms Trade Treaty goes into effect

Good News: UN Arms Trade Treaty goes into effect

Here's some Good News I bet you haven't heard about. On Christmas Eve, the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty went into effect, an effort to put some sort of controls on the $80 billion per year international trade in the machinery of death. Until recently, very little attention was been paid to the sale and transfer of conventional weapons that served mostly to arm the terrorists - both state and non-state - and the oppressors - again, both state and non-state - of the world and enriching a crowd of shadowy arms merchants who cut the deals and handle the details

To show you how poorly it has been regulated, of the seven to eight million firearms manufactured annually, one million are lost to arms traders.

The principle of the Arms Trade Treaty is simple enough: It prohibits the sale of weapons to individuals, groups, or countries that commit genocide, break human rights and international humanitarian laws, or abet terrorists and requires nations to monitor all aspects of production - from sourcing to manufacturing to export - and applies to a wide range of weapons, from guns and grenades to tanks and battleships.

It is the result, as these things invariably are, of years of negotiations. But it was ultimately approved by the General Assembly by a vote of 154 to 3, with only Iran, North Korean, and Syria voting no. Some 130 countries, including the US, signed it in 2013. Over 60 countries have ratified it, well beyond the 50 needed to make it legally binding on all signatories.

Can it have an impact? After all, it's easy to dismiss these sorts of agreements a vapid exercises in rhetoric lacking any real teeth to enforce their laudable goals. But history says they can make a real difference. In 1999, an international treaty to ban the use of anti-personnel mines went into effect. Within five years, the legal trade in such mines was almost non-existent and 65 nations had completely destroyed their stocks. The number of accidental deaths from exploding landmines has been cut by over two-thirds. Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has effectively put an end to the testing of nuclear weapons and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has undeniably all but halted the spread of nuclear weapons technology.

So yes, it can make a difference, which makes its going into effect good news.

It would be better news, of course, if the US Senate would ratify it. Which of course it won't. Why? Because of the freaking paranoid gun nuts and their bought-off stooges in the Senate, 50 of who sent a letter to Obama in September claiming that the treaty infringes on rights under the sacred Second Amendment - this even though the treaty is exclusively concerned with international trade and US requirements for obtaining licenses for weapons transfers are already stricter than the treaty requires and one of the goals of US negotiators was to bring the practices of other nations up to the standards we already set.

These people are just unbelievable - and unbelievably vile.

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