Opinion by Gary Mauser, Alan J. Chwick & Joanne Eisen
United Nations – -(AmmoLand.com)-The 2022 meeting of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Eighth Conference of States Parties (CSP/CSP 8), has come and gone with very little fanfare. The diplomats arrogantly ignored all COVID-19 restrictions to hold in-person meetings. Despite being shadowed by negative factors, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ATT proponents claimed another successful year.
Ignoring this 800 Pound Gorilla in the room, the diplomats believed the ATT had been so successful they deserved a Ninth Conference at a future date where they can stay at a fancy resort.
However, the very philosophy of the ATT, that disarmament is a path of progress to a peaceful globe, had gone up in smoke with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Because the ATT had so obviously failed to keep Ukraine safe from Russia, the diplomats tried desperately to ignore such an embarrassing Gorilla in the room. But the Russian invasion betrayed the Russian and U.S. promises made in 1994 to provide security for a disarmed Ukraine and dismayed the “true believers” in the ATT. Ukraine is now paying the price of trusting the 1994 promises, and thus the ATT. See Brookings Edu for more details on the Trilateral Process.
Peace through disarmament, the same promises made to signatories of the Treaty, has been shown to be nothing more than a cruel deception. The Russian invasion demonstrated that no State participating in the ATT could ever trust the Treaty to protect them. Clearly, ATT officials could not determine any country’s requirements for weapons, nor could ATT officials even keep the State secrets that the ATT demands signatories reveal. After the ATT’s failure to protect the Ukraine, no State could believe that they would gain security through promising to abandon control of their own armaments and putting them under ATT control.
Promises Made, and Promises Kept – We Think Not!
In addition to the Gorilla, there were two Elephants also lurking in the ATT meeting room. Delegates tried to ignore that another failure was signaled by the theme of this year’s meeting, “a close examination of post shipment controls that would help prevent diversion into the illegal Black Market.”
Diversion is a key ATT term, but Black Markets are impossible to avoid. Nations who signed the Treaty promised to prevent arms from being diverted “to the illicit market and for unauthorized use.” The ATT President’s CSP 8 working paper reminds members, “By joining the ATT, States Parties have committed to take effective measures to address this risk and prevent diversion.”
Brian Wood and Paul Holtom, disarmament researchers, make it very clear that “ATT STATES parties have accepted particular obligations to prevent, detect, eradicate and address the diversion of conventional arms already transferred, through their national control systems as well as through international cooperation in accordance with international law.”
Note the relevant words, “obligations to prevent, detect, eradicate and address,” diversion. States have signed on to do the impossible. Under the pleasant rhetoric of the term ‘diversion,’ the fact is that participating States have promised to control the Black Market in illicit weapons. Yet, when has any Black Market ever been controlled? How often do States control porous borders and corrupt officials? The second Elephant in the room rises: many member states lack the ABILITY to honor this commitment, so they require financial and technical aid.
Throughout history, for thousands of years and across various cultures, humans have defied governments and formed Black Markets.
When there is a demand for desired controlled goods and services, a market is formed where one can find those goods and services. Even when regimes are willing to take harsh, totalitarian measures, controlling such markets remain impossible. Black Market participants have a tremendous financial advantage by participating, which is quite capitalist. By definition, Black Markets are criminal, and if they become powerful enough, such markets can even topple regimes.
In an atmosphere of growing world pessimism, the diplomats went to work to make the Treaty appear to work better by diplomatically telling each other that they were making actual progress. Academics like Wood and Holtom thought they had already figured out how to control the Black Market by adding post-arrival inspections to arms transfers. At the CSP 8 Conference, the focus was specifically on inspections at the final arrival location of the transferred weapons.
For example, part of the obligation to prevent diversion would be to create a system of controls verifying that arms had arrived at their final destination without being ‘diverted.’ These extra activities would control the arms diversion problem. The States Parties only needed to follow rational, practical directions provided to participating countries in order to create and improve post-shipment inspections, and the job would be done – the illegal arms market would quit working.
There are many teaching documents created, such as the Annex D of the Chair’s draft report, CSP 4. SIPRI had provided a guide for Post-Shippment On-Site Inspections And Stockpile Manasgement Assistance, suggesting, for example, “prohibitions on activities like sketching, note taking or photography within military facilities,” or calling on “more senior officials” for help. There was also a Good Practice Guide On Post-Shipment On-Site Inspections Of Military Materiel created about the benefits of these post-transfer inspections, which would determine if diversion had taken place.
But the Elephant remains standing, as many States do not presently have the TECHNICAL ABILITY to accomplish these tasks. These States need to ‘build capacity’, using DONATED FUNDING, to follow the directions of the academic arms control planners. Based on decades of such aid to their disarmament attempts, it’s an assumption that poor States expect. In an atmosphere of gentle bullying by disarmament proponents, funding always sweetens the mess. ‘Capacity Building’ always requires a funding Elephant. Perhaps this is why the bullies are hired as consultants?
As the meeting progressed, it became apparent that the finances of the ATT were in shambles. Too many States were in arrears. Small, poor states needed help to implement new policies and new patterns of behavior. The CSP 8 was not fully paid up. They were half a million behind. One might be surprised that it was only a missing half million in a world awash with donor funding, a very small sum. But there it was.
Dumisani Dladla, Head of the Secretariat, says, “The ATT is building an annual deficit of 7% average, and liquidity challenges will materialize in the medium term.” We, the authors, hope that the funding will NOT become available, but it probably will. The lack of funding is a huge hindrance to the smooth functioning of the diplomats.
On the conference’s final day, a minor but significant financial crisis developed regarding the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF), which had been formed separately from the main funding of the ATT to help fund teaching projects. It had received 11 million dollars to help countries with capacity building; however, many poor States are in arrears and might not be eligible for the VTF funding, as per Paragraph 31 of the Final Report.
An NRA-ILA article, by James Baranowski, Director of International Affairs, Executive Secretary – World Forum on Shooting Activities, suggested that a consensus agreement of 100% could not be reached regarding whether or not these poor States could then receive aid.
As the meeting was about to end, Paragraph 31 of the Final Report had not been agreed to by consensus, and consensus is a key factor in the trust nations have within the ATT. This is because it means that all nations, large or small, can claim veto power they require to protect themselves.
Eventually, by the end of the last day, consensus was achieved, and Paragraph 31 of the Final Report noted that the Selection Committee would be guided by the VTF Terms of Reference. That is, available funds would become available to countries who were in arrears.
Even though there were many concerns, and Paragraph 27 of the Final Report underscored “concern for the low rate of compliance with the reporting obligations,” and Paragraph 35 had “deep concerns about the unpaid contributions,” the diplomats and proponents of the eventual global disarmament committee could claim success.
Now, we must ask, what does this tell us about the future? Realistically, a number of vulnerable nations will not be able to comply with the false message of safety through partial, unilateral, disarmament. Trusting the ATT for protection will cause regimes to fall. Families of regime leaders will be in danger. The foolish posturing of disarmament proponents is an unacceptable path that ignores the reality on the ground of present-day human behavior. At some point, an adult in the room needs to stop the foolish dream of peace through disarmament.
As the partial unilateral disarmament behavior of Ukraine has shown, that disarmament leads to instability and human carnage.
In the aftermath of the CSP 8, at the recent meeting of the General Assembly, on 4 October 2022, the President of the General Assembly acknowledged that states realize that “they must invest in defense now because war and annexing the land of one’s neighbor had apparently returned to the tool-box of settling disputes.” Quiet amazingly, as major world disputes rage and the Arms Trade Treaty fails its participants, all the while, the President of the General Assembly tells the States to continue investing time and waste money.
The present attempt at a global path to peace by the ATT does not look promising. The Arms Trade Treaty has no chance of success, and no one is seriously attempting to find an effective, if elusive, path to that peace because of the emotional commitment to disarmament.
The weapons control fantasy is so compelling for the advocates, that it blocks their understanding of pure evil. Until they face and control that evil, they cannot make or keep promises of State security, or global peace for Earth’s people.
About The Authors
Gary Mauser is a professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. Check out his blog at JusticeForGunowners.ca for more information.
Alan J Chwick has been involved with firearms much of his life and is the Retired Managing Coach of the Freeport NY Junior Marksmanship Club. He has escaped New York State to South Carolina and is an SC FFL Dealer & Gunsmith (Everything22andMore.com). [email protected] | Twitter/TruthSocial: @E22andMore
Joanne D Eisen, DDS (Ret.), practiced dentistry on Long Island, NY. She has collaborated and written on firearm politics for the past 40+ years. She, too, escaped New York State, but to Virginia. [email protected]