The Hidden Costs of The Arms Trade Treaty

By PaulGallant, Sherry Gallant, Alan Chwick & Joanne D. Eisen

United Nations Money Pit
The Hidden Costs of The Arms Trade Treaty

New York, NY –-( 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 the largest portion of the bill? Could it be the U.S., the State which has been the largest impediment to the enactment of an ATT?

According to Robert Zuber, Director of UN-based Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW), “there is broad recognition in the 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 an ATT as the Implementation Support Unit.

The ISU is a new construct that will be charged with performing the tasks required by the Treaty. In effect, it will act as the governing body, and proponents expect that it will necessarily expand 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 that sign 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 has been provided to developing States, but these donations rarely accomplish the intended goal. This will be even more evident and more burdensome under the current world’s economic condition.

Past funding provided by the U.S. to help undeveloped nations accomplish the marking and tracing provisions of 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 already been 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 to fund 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 into 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 been instrumental in the editing of virtually all of the authors’ writings, and is immensely knowledgeable in the area of firearm politics; she actively co-authored this article.

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, and contains hyperlinks to many of their articles. Their recent series focusing on the Arms Trade Treaty can be found primarily at

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The current debt crises the United States in could be greatly reduced if we just quit funding the United Nations and all the foreign aid that goes to tyrants and dictators that abuse their subjects .


Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the United States Senate. According to the decision, "this Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty," although the case itself was with regard to an executive agreement, not a "treaty" in the U.S. legal sense, and the agreement itself has never been ruled unconstitutional.


Again I repeat, if this treaty ever makes it to our "guvmint", it will take a 2/3 majority of the Senators PRESENT. I capitolize the word present because this POTUS has the habit of doing things (appointments) when there is a minimum of Senators or other legislators present to say yea or nay. I personally don't think this will ever get to the point where we have the Senate vote on it. Here again, even if it did, how many of the Senators would wish to commit political suicide by a yea vote? Taking it one step further, if it… Read more »




Typical. The govt wants us to pay for our own oppression. They also seem to have in place the organization which will come after us. Here we go boys and girls. Obama is "working under the radar" to strip Americans of their ability to fight back against the coming tyranny. Welcome to the New World Order of Communism and misery.

William Flatt

ATT hopes to put an end to American liberty in one of two readily apparent ways: One, if the US Government follows through on the proposed "Programme of Action", draconian gun measures will effectively shut down the firearms industry, gun shows, ammunition manufacturing/sales, FFL holders, etc. ATF will seek to get a mission-specific exemption to the 4th Amendment to help the US meet its treaty obligations to "verify" firearms in private hands, and of course this also inevitably means registration/ confiscation, and the attendant unintended consequences… TWO: The costs of 'helping' the UN carry out the funding for this treaty… Read more »