By PaulGallant, Sherry Gallant, Alan Chwick & Joanne D. Eisen
New York, NY –-(Ammoland.com)- After the first week of negotiations at the U.N., resulting in not much more than relentless squabbling, it should be clear to anyone who has paid attention to the facts what the alleged goals of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) are—and are not!
The Treaty is most certainly not about the global control of the illicit arms trade. It is, at least according to what its proponents tell us, about the elimination of human rights abuses. But that’s nothing more than a pipe-dream, at best. Because that stated goal—regardless of enactment of an ATT or any other treaty—is impossible to achieve.
With tyrant nations, such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea, participating in the negotiations to draft an ATT, it is almost unbelievable that any thinking individual could actually believe the laudable goals expressed by the ATT’s proponents. It is no dark secret that the vast majority of U.N. States are run by dictators, who want to maintain control over their people at any cost, so that they can continue to perpetrate human rights abuses and exploit their peoples’ resources, for their own selfish purposes.
There has been a great deal written, both by ourselves and by others, about some of the costs that would be imposed by an ATT, should it be enacted. But there are two types of costs: tangible, and intangible. Much of the writing, to date, has focused on the latter: loss of individual rights, liberty, and State sovereignty. But when it comes to the tangible costs an ATT would bring with it, that’s a whole different ballgame.
This pie-in-the-sky dream of the weapons-prohibitionists will cost money! Lots of it!!
And guess who will be stuck with thelargest portion of the bill? Could it be the U.S., the State which has been the largest impediment to enactment of an ATT?
According to Robert Zuber, Director of UN-based Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW), “there is broad recognition inthe negotiating room that some external entity tasked with providing attentive guidance with respect to treaty implementation is also needed.” Zuber was referring in part to such mechanisms to be contained in anATT as the Implementation Support Unit.
The ISU is a new construct which will be charged with performing the tasks required by the Treaty. Ineffect, it will act as the governing body, and proponents expect that it will necessarilyexpand to meet the growing needs of the Treaty. ISU employees will compile statistics and exchange information, in addition to conducting outreach programs in order to promote the Treaty. According to the Discussion Paper of July 3, 2012, “other technical and administrative duties as assigned by the Assembly of States Parties or the Review Conference” will be part of its mandate.
In addition, States thatsign onto the ATT will be expected to aid each other, especially when undeveloped nations lack the capacity to conform to the requirements of the Treaty. In a joint statement on Thursday,July 5, the African Group, comprised of over 50 UN member States, declared their support for “Sufficient provisions on international cooperation as a treaty obligation, including training and building institutional resources in developing States.”
We know that funding hasbeen provided to developing States, but these donations rarely accomplish theintended goal. This will be even more evident and more burdensome under thecurrent world’s economic condition.
Past funding provided by the U.S. to help undeveloped nations accomplish the marking and tracing provisionsof the U.N.’s earlier Programme of Action (PoA), went largely to waste. Our tax dollars, funneled through the Dept. of State, Office of Removal and Abatement, funded marking and data collection programs in Costa Rica, Paraguay,and the Bahamas, plus programs run by the Regional Centre on Small Arms, or RECSA, in Africa—countries such as Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and others.
Because of technical problems associated with marking machines, the RECSA program had been halted. Other problems that have plagued marking and tracing programs include the need for skilled manpower to mark weapons, and the need for skilled labor required to enter the marking data.
All of this takes lots of money! If the past is any prediction of the future, marking and tracing systems required under an ATT will become bottomless pits for U.S. tax dollars and will result in yielding neither productive nor accurate data.
In today’s fragile economy, how much more will we be taxed to fund these meaningless schemes?
In order to obtain answers as to how much of our U.S. tax dollars have alreadybeen used to fund these programs, we sent a Freedom of Information Request to the U.S. Dept. of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA). Not very surprisingly, no answer was forthcoming.
We can also expect that aid provided to create legislation and strengthen the enforcement capacity needed by an Arms Trade Treaty will be ill-spent. Prior attempts at enforcement of the provisions of treaties have not prevented illicit weapons from crossing porous borders via the black-market – in fact, such attempts only serve to bolster the black-market in weapons. Furthermore, it’s been widely and well-documented that government officials are often complicit in keeping international borders wide open, thereby allowing the black-market to flourish.
The sad fact is that ATT proponents, who seek – as do we – a world free of human abuse and violence, are leading us by the nose down the path to bankruptcy,and worse. But the current frenzy to enact some treaty – any treaty – right now, the promise of whose proponents is a safer world for all of us, is only a first step down this path.
And the proof can be seen in the admission of Katherine Prizeman, International Coordinator for the UN-based Global Action to Prevent War project:
The ATT should be viewed as a floor, not a ceiling, for the regulation of the armstrade….Moreover, any ATT must not be used as anexcuse for the UN to limit or curtail its advocacy for better controls ofillicit small arms, or for stronger application of international humanitarian and human rights law related to the production or use of armaments…. In looking ahead, it is important to distinguish between what the immediate future will hold for the ATT in July 2012 as well as opportunities for expansion [emphasis ours] and clarification of the treaty in later review cycles.
We can expect endless requests for more – and yet more – U.S. tax dollars tofund the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty.
In today’s political landscape, how many Americans believe that our country’s leaders will have the intestinal fortitude to turn down such requests, or will not cave in to political pressures and tirades to do so?
The authors of this article are not that naive.
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 theIndependence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently,Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick. Sherry Gallant has beeninstrumental in the editing of virtually all of the authors’ writings, and isimmensely knowledgeable in the area of firearm politics; she activelyco-authored this article.
Almost all of the co-authoredwritings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at www.gallanteisen.org,which contains more detailed information about their biographies and writing,and contains hyperlinks to many of their articles. Their recent series focusingon the Arms Trade Treaty can be foundprimarily at www.gwg.org.