The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is scheduled to be signed by Barack Obama on June 4, this Monday. He has already said he will sign it. However, the United States Senate passed a resolution that they will not ratify the document. Now a letter has been sent to Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by 130 members of the House of Representatives opposing the ATT.
On May 30 the 130 congressmen wrote to remind both Obama and Kerry that they are supposed to be “defenders of the sovereignty of the United States and as such the representatives wrote to “express…grave concern about the dangers posed by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty.”
According to the letter, “Our country’s sovereignty, and the protections it affords our individual freedoms, including those recognized by the Second Amendment, must not be infringed.”
The letter then went on to cite three reasons not to sign the treaty:
- The treaty as adopted by the General Assembly is deeply flawed.
- The treaty suffers from vagueness.
- The procedure by which the treaty was adopted violates a red line set out by Obama’s own administration.
The congressmen expounded on the flaws of the treaty. They wrote, “It includes only a weak preambular reference to the lawful ownership and use of, and trade in, firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, or personal self-defense, as inherent rights. It frequently employs the term “end users,” which can refer to individual firearms owners, and, in its sixth Principle, it creates a national “responsibility” to “prevent … diversion” of firearms, a requirement that could be used to justify the imposition of further controls within the United States.”
“This risk is enhanced by Article 5.1, which requires nations party to the treaty to implement it in accordance with this principle,” the letter reads. “We know that, in the final March negotiating conference, your administration opposed a number of these treaty elements: we do not believe that your administration should now support them by signing the treaty.”
The letter also points out that “in Article 20.3, allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote. We note that Article 20.4 makes it clear that amendments are binding only on those nations that accept them, but we do not regard this as an adequate safeguard.”
The vagueness of the treaty was also pointed out. “It defines none of the terms essential to interpreting or implementing it, or defines them only by reference to terms that are themselves undefined. This means that, by becoming party to the treaty, the United States would be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear.”
By being unclear, it would thus open the US to repeated charges of breach of faith, and no doubt it would also place pressure on the US to adopt new interpretations or amendments to the treaty.