REVCON 2012 – Prelude To A New Arms Trade Treaty

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

REVCON 2012
REVCON 2012 – Prelude To A New Arms Trade Treaty
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Manasquan, NJ –-(Ammoland.com)- With the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) currently on the back burner, in just a few days, weapon-prohibitionists will be holding another firearms conference in New York City: the Review Conference 2012 (RevCon 2012).

RevCon 2012 re-visits the UN's Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, adopted in 2001.

While the PoA enumerates many lofty-sounding objectives, to those unfamiliar with the UN's agenda, to date, with regard to civilian firearm ownership, this might sound like a template for the elimination of human rights abuses. But armed with knowledge of the UN's past efforts to achieve civilian disarmament, and reading all the provisions contained in the Programme, it is difficult to come away with any impression other than the PoA was really nothing short of a template to accomplish that.

But if the PoA's proponents said what they really wanted –just like the rest of the weapon-prohibitionists– they likely wouldn't have gotten to the stage we're at now: the implementation of a global, legally -binding Arms Trade Treaty!

So they camouflaged their real goals a decade ago, and used the PoA as a guideline.

The goal of this Second Review Conference “[W]ill offer the opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of the PoA, including the separately agreed International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (2005).”  And the goal of the ITI is the “Undertaking [of] effective measures in marking, record-keeping and tracing [which] is vital for curbing the illicit trade and combating the diversion of small arms to unintended users. Although many weapons are marked when produced and some when imported, international cooperation in marking and tracing of small arms is in its infancy.”

RevCon 2012 will take place at the UN from August 27 to September 7, 2012, and one can find its agenda described at the Reaching Critical Will (RCW) website. RCW describes itself as “a project of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)…. to protest the killing and destruction of the war then raging in Europe. WILPF created Reaching Critical Will in 1999 in order to promote and facilitate engagement of non-governmental actors in UN processes related to disarmament.”

Unlike the Arms Trade Treaty, which will encompass 8 classes of weapons, the PoA is specifically limited to Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Just as ATT proponents insist that the ATT was not intended to eliminate civilian weapons, PoA proponents (many of whom are members of the same anti-gun groups) also insist that the PoA is not about the elimination of the private ownership of firearms.

And this is how they laid the trap.  Since governments control the definition of what is “lawful,” when the time is ripe, governments can re-define lawful civilian firearm ownership and possession right out of existence.

The weapon-prohibitionists maintain that “Most illicit small arms and light weapons begin as legally manufactured or imported weapons that are subsequently diverted to the illicit realm.” They have no qualms about allowing government to retain strong control over privately-owned weapons. They appear to believe, with utmost confidence, that through their elaborate tracing and tracking schemes, they can locate the points where weapons are diverted into the illicit arms trade, thereby halting further illegal transfers, and punishing violators, as well.

But what their schemes will actually accomplish is decrease licit transfers of arms to civilians, who will then increasingly turn to the black market to obtain what government denies them.

Sadly, many Americans already accept the fact that our government controls just who is allowed to own which weapons, and under what circumstances those weapons can be owned and used. Although not stated outright, it seems apparent to us that PoA restrictions are intended only to reduce the lists –of permissible weapons, of those who can own them, and of how those weapons can be used.

And these lists are rapidly shrinking, day by day.

In a 2001 paper sponsored by Small Arms Survey, “Removing Small Arms From Society,” Sami Faltas, Glenn McDonald & Camilla Waszink confirm the PoA's goal.

The authors state: “Finally, using a mix of incentives and sanctions and working together with business and civil society, governments must recover stocks of firearms held by the population and dispose of them definitively, preferably through destruction.”

The weapon-prohibitionists have been busy preparing a set of international standards, the International Small Arms Control Standard (ISACS), an early draft of which is currently online. Its update, which has been kept under wraps, is not easily accessible to the public (log-in credentials are required for viewing the document). The update is scheduled to be launched to the public on Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

It is often stated that “actions speak louder than words,” and the weapon-prohibitionists never come up short in this regard. We can best understand the RevCon 2012 advocates' camouflaged designs to disarm civilians by watching their actions. Although they claim that their intent is to reduce violence and to reduce human rights violations, their acts indicate otherwise.

When voluntary civilian disarmament fails, as it has in the past, forceful disarmament will follow. The weapon-prohibitionists apparently know this, but they don't seem to care. In an  article entitled “Lessons From the Frontiers: Civilian Disarmament in Kenya and Uganda,” the authors discuss attempted civilian disarmament. And, they acknowledge, “In some cases the use of force was clearly excessive, with grave human rights violations occurring.”

The human rights violations referred to included rape, torture, and murder.

If those who condemn the use of such inhumane methods are willing to see them used to achieve their goal of disarmament at any cost, including the loss of innocent life, we should never believe that their goal is benign.  Nor should we ever accept their pretense of innocence. We must always seek the hidden lie, for it is there just waiting to be found.

With the knowledge that total civilian disarmament–and government monopoly of force–is the ultimate goal, it is imperative that we watch RevCon 2012 with extreme scrutiny and skepticism.

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.  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.

Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at http://gallanteisen.incnf.org, 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 http://gwg.incnf.org .

  • 3 thoughts on “REVCON 2012 – Prelude To A New Arms Trade Treaty

    1. I have read your article “REVCON 2012 – Prelude To A New Arms Trade Treaty” with interest.

      With all due respect but some remarks:

      (1) One can say a lot about the United Nations, in the positive and the negative, but your claims that the UN has jurisdiction over your individual gun rights is nonsense. This is the prerogative of individual Member States. If the United States wants to infringe on your gun rights you need to blame the United States, not the United Nations. The UN is a treaty organisation between States.

      (2) “They [the “weapon-prohibitionists”] appear to believe, with utmost confidence, that through their elaborate tracing and tracking schemes, they can locate the points where weapons are diverted into the illicit arms trade, thereby halting further illegal transfers, and punishing violators, as well”. First of all, I am no “weapon-prohibitionist”, and secondly I have no “utmost confidence” in tracing and tracking schemes. The reason being that the biggest diverters, from my professional experience, are governments themselves. We all know what happens when governments need to monitor themselves…

      (3) “PoA proponents also insist that the PoA is not about the elimination of the private ownership of firearms. And this is how they laid the trap. Since governments control the definition of what is “lawful,” when the time is ripe, governments can re-define lawful civilian firearm ownership and possession right out of existence.” Isn’t this true for everything in our daily life? But this is unrelated to the PoA !! The US legislator can take away your firearms with a stroke of a pen at every moment, and they do not need the UN to do that. What you write is baseless paranoia.

      (4) “The weapon-prohibitionists maintain that “Most illicit small arms and light weapons begin as legally manufactured or imported weapons that are subsequently diverted to the illicit realm.”” Are you claiming something different? Please elaborate. I am interested.

      (5) “In a 2001 paper sponsored by Small Arms Survey, “Removing Small Arms From Society,” Sami Faltas, Glenn McDonald & Camilla Waszink confirm the PoA’s goal. The authors state: “Finally, using a mix of incentives and sanctions and working together with business and civil society, governments must recover stocks of firearms held by the population and dispose of them definitively, preferably through destruction.”” As you well know this is quoted out of context. The majority of the examples given are from post-conflict situations, or countries in dire need of peace-building. I am not very familiar with the United States, but I presume these conditions do not apply to the United States. Moreover the next paragraph in the publication does clearly not question private gun ownership (neither do I): “While opinions vary as to the conditions under which citizens should be allowed to possess firearms, there is fairly broad agreement that military-style weapons should only be held by properly trained, fully accountable, and specifically authorized government officials.”

      (6) “When voluntary civilian disarmament fails, as it has in the past, forceful disarmament will follow.” The same Small Arms Survey publication that you quote has on the next page the following: “When successful, practical disarmament creates or reinforces a governmental monopoly of the tools of violence. This applies to both of the settings in which it is usually conducted, namely crime prevention and post-conflict peace-building. Yet for practical reasons, such a monopoly must be balanced by the rule of law and respect for human rights and civil liberties.” Once again gun ownership is not questioned. Any disarmament needs to be conducted based on the rule of law, with respect for human rights and civil liberties. The examples for disarmament that you then cite are Uganda and Kenya. Having travelled in Kenya, Uganda and the United States I cannot belief that you want to compare the situation in the United States to the situation in Kenya and Uganda? Both countries bordered by various countries in permanent internal conflict (DR Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia…), Northern Uganda having gone through a long term conflict with the LRA, both countries heavily corrupt… Having said that there is no excuse to be found for the forceful disarmament of the Karamajong cluster. (I disagree with the popular belief, which exists in Uganda and Kenya, that all the violence in those countries can be blamed on the Karamajong cluster.) However your claim that the authors of the Saferworld report (“Lessons from the frontiers”) do not care about the excesses associated with the forceful disarmament is not true. One of the recommendations clearly says: “Use force sparingly while respecting and protecting human rights: Kenyan and Ugandan arms collection efforts have long been associated with claims of human rights violations by security forces. Yet civilian disarmament should aim to restore human security and the rule of law. It has also been shown that excessive use of force can prove counter-productive, alienating communities further from the state, stoking grievances and even leading weapon-holders to mount fierce resistance or flee across borders. Forceful measures may yield results, provided they are well planned and executed alongside other efforts. To ensure this, security personnel need to be made fully conscious of human rights standards and the need to avoid indiscriminate and excessive use of force. Accountability measures, such as public inquests or court martials to investigate any violations by security forces should also feature in policy frameworks and be provided for as a matter of routine during and after forceful operations.”

      My main problems with this type of report is that they ignore several crucial issues:

      Neither Uganda nor Kenya have been able to provide security for all their citizens, for various reasons, making self-defence an obvious alternative.
      Uganda and Kenya have repeatedly armed and disarmed local militias, for various reasons, and therefore contributing themselves to the problem.
      Corruption is a serious problem. Prior to these disarmament drives the government sets quotas to collect x amount of firearms from certain communities based on intelligence that x amount of weapons might be present. Lets presume that the goal is the collection of 1,000 firearms. The security forces succeed in collecting say 1,000 firearms, but only the collection of 500 firearms is reported. The policy makers will then demand from the security forces a more ‘robust’ intervention to collect the 1,000. What happens to the unreported firearms? The remaining are either sold on the black market by corrupt officials, or redistributed to friendly militias. (Based on interviews in 2010.)
      The foreign policy of major powers. What is the point of disarmament in a particular region if major powers are sending large amounts of small arms to the same region to further their interests? Especially if those small arms are send to governments which (a) either distribute those weapons to private militias, (b) do not adequately manage stockpiles, (c) have no control over the security forces or (d) do not adequately manage their security forces (e.g. when soldiers are not adequately sustained with food etc they will find other means either by selling their weapon/ammunition or by taking using said weapon).

      (7) More importantly you ignore to mention to your readers that General Assembly resolutions, the International Tracing Instrument, the Programme of Action… are all non-binding.

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