Arms Control Treaty

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Beginning with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/89 of 12 December 2006, there has been a United Nations initiative to establish an international treaty "establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms". [1] Its emphasis is on small arms, and is not from the much more powerful United Nations Security Council.

The Resolution acknowledges "the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs, and in order to participate in peace support operations"; it explicitly does not restrict ownership or production inside states, only actions between states.


In the United States of America, however, this is seen by some activists, such as Wayne LaPierre, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association, as an attack on national sovereignty and rights in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He quoted John Bolton, who was not confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the George W. Bush Administration but had spoken against earlier drafts as interim representative,

The [Obama] Administration is trying to act as if this is really just a treaty about international trade between nations, but there's no doubt — as was the case back over a decade ago —that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.

LaPierre wrote,

Details of the Obama/Clinton-endorsed treaty — which has not yet been finalized — will surely include international monitoring and control of every aspect of firearm commerce and ownership in the United States. [2]

He argues that "literally all of the international gun confiscation groups couch their renewed U.N. treaty effort in terms of what they call 'human rights'. But in the newspeak lexicon of the U.N., 'human rights' doesn't mean the right to self-defense as we know it."

Support, and wider context?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated the position, in 2009,

Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms.

The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area by seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. As long as that Conference operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will actively support the negotiations. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.

On a national basis, the United States has in place an extensive and rigorous system of controls that most agree is the “gold standard” of export controls for arms transfers.[3]

In the third paragraph, she endorsed the existing U.S. system of gun control without calling for additional restrictions. LaPierre, however,argues that she "did not mention the Second Amendment or U.S. sovereignty. Her silence on those seminal elements of our freedom, stands in stark contrast to the audacious defense of American liberty by President George W. Bush under Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton...[who said in July 2001] "we do not support measures that prohibit civilian possession of small arms...the United States will not join consensus on a final document that contains measures abrogating the constitutional right to bear arms."[2]