Trump drops out of another global arms treaty

April 26, 2019

Trump announced Friday that he would un-sign the global arms pact known as the Arms Trade Treaty in the latest illustration of his aversion to international pacts and world governance.

“We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom,” Trump said during a speech before the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis. “I’m officially announcing today that the United States will be revoking the effect of America’s signature from this badly misguided treaty.”

The origins of the treaty, which sets out international rules for sales and transfers of everything from small arms to large planes and ships, date to the George W. Bush administration. It was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations and signed in 2013 under President Barack Obama but has never been ratified by U.S. lawmakers.

The treaty seeks to prevent illicit arms transfers that fuel destructive conflicts, making it harder to conduct weapon sales in violation of arms embargoes. About 100 countries, including U.S. allies in Europe, have ratified the treaty while more than 30 others have signed but not ratified. Countries that have shunned the treaty entirely include Russia, North Korea and Syria.

Chris Cox, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, praised the decision in a statement, saying it “gave NRA members one more reason to enthusiastically support his presidency.”

The NRA and other opponents of the treaty argue that it is ineffective and, more importantly, poses a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment rights by potentially subjecting domestic gun ownership to internationally drafted rules.

Its supporters dismiss those claims and say the treaty was drafted to have no effect on gun laws in the United States.

After receiving a loud round of applause for un-signing the treaty, Trump said, “I’m impressed. I didn’t know too many of you would know what it is.”

The White House declined to comment.

The move would add to earlier decisions underscoring Trump’s suspicion of international groupings and agreements that he says could infringe on U.S. sovereignty.

Since taking office, Trump has approved decisions to pull the United States from the Paris climate accord, the nuclear deal with Iran and the U.N. educational and cultural body UNESCO. His national security adviser, John Bolton, has championed a campaign to challenge the International Criminal Court.

The decisions have tested U.S. alliances and, critics say, undermined U.S. influence abroad.

“This is yet another instance of the Trump administration turning its back on multilateral diplomacy,” said Rachel Stohl, managing director of the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, who previously contributed to drafting of the treaty.

“By not participating in the ATT, the United States is undermining global norms around the arms trade,” she said. “It says to other countries, ‘the U.S. could become less responsible, so why shouldn’t I?’”

Thomas Countryman, a former State Department official who served as lead negotiator for the treaty under Obama, said the treaty, if ratified, would require no changes to U.S. laws or rules around guns.

“A decision to ‘un-sign’ the Arms Trade Treaty would be yet another mistaken step by the Trump administration that threatens to make the world less safe, rather than more secure,” he said in a statement. “It is sad, but to be expected, that this president opposes efforts to require other countries to meet the high standards of U.S. military export decisions.”

(Source: Washington post)

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