Arms Trade Treaty – Late-Breaking Developments

By Paul Gallant, Alan Chwick, & Joanne D. Eisen

United Nations Monument to Gun Control
This United Nations Monument Says it All

New York, NY –-( It has come to our attention that Arms Trade Treaty proponents are attempting to change the rules mid-stream, prior to the upcoming Treaty negotiations in early July.

Ted R. Bromund, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, alerted the public to the very real possibility that ATT proponents are changing the meaning of the term “consensus” and to the political ramifications for the US if ATT proponents prevail. Until now, “consensus” has been understood by the US and others to mean 100-percent agreement with all the provisions of the ATT.

According to Ronald Walker, in his 2011 manual for UN Delegates: “The view has become very widely held —to the point that it can be said to be now part of customary law— that the Chairman should not declare consensus if a single delegation raises a formal objection to an impending decision…. This view is explicit in several sets of Rules of Procedure adopted in recent decades.”

In contrast, another opinion—that of Robbie Sabel, in his 2006 Procedure at International Conferences—said “such a rule [100% consensus] is rarely adopted.”

The problem resides in the UN document “Provisional rules of procedure of the Conference,” dated February 6, 2012. Rule 33 of this document states: “The Conference shall make every effort to ensure that all its substantive decisions are taken by consensus.” Then, the document explains what happens if “every effort” fails.

If “every effort” has been taken, Rule 35.1 now comes into play, and it permits a 2/3 vote to pass the measure: “decisions on all matters of substance… shall be taken by a two-thirds majority of the representatives present and voting.”

If this occurs, some of the non-pertinent provisions desired by ATT proponents, such as reparations, may become part of the Treaty. This means that weapons-manufacturing States —like the US— will be expected to compensate other States who have used weapons to inflict carnage on their own people, like Sudan did in the Darfur region.

In plain English, this means that the Treaty will be the all-inclusive version —and wish-list— of everything the weapon-prohibitionists wanted from the start.

The delegations engaged in heavy discussions this past week (Feb. 13-17 2012), wrangling over this point without coming to an agreement. It is of great concern to ATT proponents that the final negotiating conference in July 2012 could get bogged down without a clear agreement on the rules. That’s because the Treaty may not be ready in time for President Obama to sign, if he is a one-term president.

The Russians were “unpleasantly surprised” and are backed by the Arab Group, India, Israel, Nicaragua, Syria, and Turkey, among others. Some of those who favor the new turn of events include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Norway.

Whichever way this plays out, you can bet they’re after the firearms possessed by US civilians.

About the authors

Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick. Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at, which contains more detailed information about their biographies and writing.

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Eric man I can't see where you are coming from? You say, “don’t let your guard down" after trashing and organization that is doing exactly that. Either you’re extremely naive or you didn't actually research your opinions. 1st of all it isn't about hunting and never has been. 2nd of all the SCOTUS decision was decided 5-4, which is one Presidential appointment away from being overturned. Lastly, when congress ratifies, and then signs a UN treaty it becomes law of the land. This means all member-states have to follow the law.

Eric Equis

Crying WOLF again or for real? It's like the NAGR "emergency notices" that claim impeding doom followed by a plea for donations… it's the same damn issue for years and if you actually are gullible enough to donate, it only means more emails, letters and "emergency notices" with requests for "urgent donations needed" Sadly, it becomes a con game… Seriously, what if the SCOTUS declared the 2nd Amendment an "individual right" guaranteed by the Constitution and… oh… wait a minute… Folks… what would the NRA or NAGR be without the Brady Campaign… unemployed? Yea, think on that. Ponder the term… Read more »