On March 28, the “Final” Conference on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty came to a close without reaching its goal of consensus support for the treaty from the 193 nations in the body. Now, a group of nations led by Kenya, including the United States, has introduced a resolution to adopt the treaty to the UN General Assembly. A vote on the treaty is likely to take place in early April, with a meeting of the General Assembly having been scheduled for April 2. The goal of the states putting forth the resolution is for the treaty to be available for signing June 3. Passage of the treaty is expected, but a vote in the General Assembly has been described as a “weaker” method of adopting the treaty than the consensus adoption ATT backers had sought.
The final text of the treaty, issued March 27, does have a passing acknowledgement of individual gun rights in the preamble, which states, “Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law.” However, the preamble has no force of law and there are still several troublesome aspects of the treaty’s text.
Among the most egregious provisions, are the sections urging recordkeeping of “end users.” Article 8 Section 1 implores importing countries to provide information to an exporting country regarding arms transfers, including “end use or end user documentation.” Article 12 urges states to keep records of end users “for a minimum of ten years.” Regardless of any attempt to sell the treaty to the American people, data kept on the end users of imported firearms is a registry, which is unacceptable. But worse, the treaty could force that information into the hands of foreign governments, whose records on privacy may be even more questionable than that of the U.S.