Kerry to sign NRA-opposed Arms Trade Treaty, diplomats say

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a luncheon in New York September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a luncheon in New York September 23, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry, in a move that puts the Obama administration at odds with the powerful pro-gun lobby, will sign the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty regulating the $70 billion international conventional arms business, diplomats said on Tuesday.

A senior State Department official said President Barack Obama’s administration would notify the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and Kerry would sign the treaty on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Obama gave a speech to the assembly on Tuesday that focused on Syria, Iran and other Middle East hot spots.

The arms treaty, which requires ratification by the Senate and has been attacked by America’s pro-gun National Rifle Association, would help Western countries push for the curtailment of Russian arms sales to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s government has been accused of widespread abuses in more than two years of civil war.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kerry’s decision “a milestone towards ending the flow of conventional arms that fuel atrocities and abuse.”

The United States and 86 other signatory nations “must implement the treaty and bring to an end the supply of weapons to countries where they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations,” Shetty said in a statement.

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, whose country has been repeatedly attacked by a cross-border Islamic jihadist militant group called Boko Haram, told the United Nations such rebellions are “sustained by unfettered access by non-state actors to illicit smart arms and light weapons.”

“For us in Africa these are the weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the treaty on April 2 by a vote of 154 for, including the United States, three against, and 23 abstentions. The no votes were cast by Iran, North Korea and Syria, U.N. records showed.

WAY TO PRESSURE RUSSIA ON SYRIA

The NRA, which has opposed the treaty from the start, called the April vote a sad day for the United States, the world’s No. 1 arms exporter.

Among the NRA’s arguments against the treaty are that it undermines American sovereignty and disregards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.

The senior State Department official rejected the NRA’s characterization of the treaty, saying the pact’s target is “illicit trade in conventional weapons that benefits terrorists and rogue agents.”

“The treaty recognizes and protects the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes,” said the official.

“It merely helps other countries create and enforce the kind of strict national export controls the United States has had in place for decades, which haven’t diminished one iota the ability of Americans to enjoy their rights under our Constitution.”

The U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs has said the treaty would not “interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession.”

“It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools,” the U.N. office said on its website.

Frank Januzzi, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, called the move “a very significant win for 20 years of human rights activism” by his organization and by Oxfam International, a confederation of groups focused on poverty and injustice.

Januzzi said the treaty could be applied to the conflict in Syria, making arm sales to the government illegal under international law. Russia, Syria’s main arms supplier, and China abstained in the April U.N. vote and have not signed the pact.

“This will increase the pressure on Russia to sign. It will increase the pressure on China as well,” he said in a telephone interview.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…