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

National Guard to withdraw from riot-torn Ferguson, Missouri

By Carey Gillam and Scott MaloneFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The governor of Missouri ordered the withdrawal on Thursday of National Guard troops from riot-torn Ferguson,…

National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…