Can the UN curb the US weaponeers?
Campaigners Build Support for Arms Trade Treaty
Governments, ideally, would defend rights of everyone, not profits of arms dealers. Nor would governments spend quite so much on weaponry. The economic reform of geonomics might help bring about this change, that is, if we didn’t tax our efforts but shared our social surplus. First, we’d move discretionary spending from politicians to ourselves, and since we don’t get campaign contributions, we’d have no motive to favor any business over another. Second, we’d more easily see each other as equals, and equals have an easier time getting along together and with others. Meanwhile, we trim this 2008 article from OneWorld of Oct 27.
by Haider RizviFrom Nobel laureates to human rights activists to former military commanders, calls are on the rise for the international community to stand up against those who are making billions of dollars by selling illicit arms around the world.
"It is time to end the slaughter," said Desmond Tutu, the Noble Peace Prize winning archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, in a statement urging the 192-member UN General Assembly to adopt the proposed Arms Trade Treaty.
Tutu's appeal in support of the treaty is part of a worldwide campaign of an international coalition of human rights groups and aid organizations that see the illicit trade in small arms as the main cause of civilian casualties in armed conflicts. The Control Arms Campaign has organized a series of public gatherings around the world and gathered 1 million signatures in support of the treaty.
In addition to ordinary citizens, recently, the campaign has also involved several former military leaders in raising the demand for the creation of an effective treaty against the illegal trade in guns and other weapons.
Based on his work in the Darfur province of Sudan, Lt. Col. John Ochai from Nigeria said, "Countries which supply Chad and Sudan with arms should be made to act according to the treaty. Currently it is easy to move arms around Chad and Darfur.”
Studies show that at least a third of a million people are killed every year with conventional weapons, many of which are used by human rights abusers due to the poorly regulated international arms market. That's the equivalent of about 1,000 deaths each day.
Small arms include assault rifles, pistols, sub-machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, portable anti-aircraft guns, grenade launchers, anti-tank missile and rocket systems, hand grenades, and anti-personnel landmines.
Josefina Martinez Gramuglia, an Argentinean delegate to the United Nations, said, "There is no regulation, internationally agreed, on the international trade of conventional arms. Our national position is that this is going to be really helpful to put some order into that international trade."
In recent years, a vast majority of UN member states have expressed interest in creating the treaty to tighten arms control, but the United States and some other major arms manufacturers and suppliers have continued to say no. The United States is estimated to have an over-35-percent share in the global market of light weapons.
The proposal to create such a treaty was first adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 after more than 150 countries voted in its favor, 24 abstained, and one -- the United States -- opposed.
Security analyst Frida Berrigan notes that 90 percent of guns seized after shootings or police raids in Mexico or at the border can be traced back to the United States, many of which are purchased at gun shows or the 6,700 gun shops within a short drive of the United States' 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
On an even larger scale, the United States government entered into over $34 billion in Foreign Military Sales agreements with other nations this year, and has sold to over 168 different countries and territories in the past three years.
Currently, about 25 percent of the $4 billion annual trade in small arms is either illicit or not recorded, according to the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Arms dealers in several African countries continue to violate embargoes -- whether imposed by the United Nations or the United States -- by using false documents or bogus certificates. These middlemen are able to operate on such a large scale only because they have the tacit support of certain powerful governments and arms manufacturers.
Last week, over 2,000 parliamentarians from over 123 countries appealed to the UN General Assembly to vote in favor of the treaty that could significantly reduce the huge daily death toll and help avoid the human rights abuses, suffering, and grief inflicted on tens of thousands of families.
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