US re-think on ATT welcomed

UN Peace Gun
UN Peace Gun



In a major policy reversal, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the US will support an Arms Trade Treaty at the UN. In a statement released on 14 October, Secretary Clinton committed the US to “actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons.” 


The decision brings to an end years of US opposition to the treaty proposal, and has been welcomed by IANSA members around the world. Africa Coordinator, Joseph Dube, said: “The US decision to support strong global controls on the arms trade is great news for Africa. As Hillary Clinton saw for herself on her recent seven-nation visit, conflict over natural resources is devastating the continent, and most families here have suffered from gun violence, either directly or indirectly. We hope the US will show positive leadership and push for a strong treaty, to help break the cycle of violence that is keeping Africa poor.”


Jasmin Nario-Galace of the Philippine Action Network on Small Arms also hailed the announcement:”The widespread availability of arms in my country is a contributing factor to the rates of injury and death, human rights and international humanitarian law violations, as well as the intensification of armed conflicts. These conflicts make poverty worse as resources are diverted away from development efforts. I see some rays of hope in this statement.”


There was a more cautious reaction to the US stipulation that treaty negotiations take place on the basis of consensus, raising fears that a treaty could be vetoed by a single state, despite overwhelming support for the principle in the UN. 


The US is the world’s largest supplier of conventional weapons, accounting last year for almost 70% of global arms sales, according to the US Congressional Research Service. "Whether or not this resolution passes, the United States now must proactively and cooperatively engage with countries around the world to create a workable, robust treaty," said Daryl G. Kimball, ACA executive director of the US-based Arms Control Association.



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