Arms Trade Treaty Talks Faltering

As the Guerrilla Blog reported earlier this month, the $4 billion global market for ammunition is not regulated by any international treaties, but members of the United Nations have been meeting this month in order to craft an arms treaty that would include the governing of international sales of bullets and other ammunition. There were already expected obstacles to the treaty including lack of support from the world’s biggest arms dealer: the United States.

The Inter Press Service reports that half way through the arms trade treaty talks, the negotiators are behind schedule and progress is slow. Disagreement over the role of Palestine has played a significant role in setting the talks behind schedule. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told IPS that in order to move forward the talks would require a “minor miracles to herd the cats”:

A draft negotiating text should be formulated within the next few days, offering observers insight into where progress has been made since the initial publication of a series of working papers.

The nuances of the draft will be critical not only because of the potentially broad humanitarian consequences of any one section but also because passage of any final treaty will depend on consensus among all parties. This last point was demanded by the administration of President Barack Obama in exchange for overturning previous U.S. policy that had opposed passage of the ATT.

As the largest weapons exporter in the world, the U.S. position has inevitably come under particular scrutiny during the treaty negotiations.

Although the notoriously strong pro-gun lobby in the United States has mounted a furious campaign opposing the ATT – succeeding, in late June, in getting 130 members of the U.S. Congress to write a letter of opposition to President Obama – the treaty has received high-level support from sections of the U.S. military.

Currently at issue is the scope of the treaty, whether it will cover, for instance, arms brokers or ammunition, the latter a point long seen as central by advocacy groups but currently being opposed by a small group of countries, including the United States.

Read more at Inter Press Service.

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