2 April 2013 The UN General Assembly approved the International Trade Treaty weapons (ATT) is the first legally binding instrument regulating the arms market at the global level.
Representatives of 154 countries voted to adopt an ATT. Their decision was welcomed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, supporters of this treaty congratulated each other as winners of some Olympiad.
On paper, everything is smooth: the agreement should set high international standards for improving the regulation of international trade in conventional weapons, prevent and eradicate illegal operations, etc. However, there were also dissatisfied ones: some fear that the treaty can be used against it, and then he believes that he is not cruel enough and left many loopholes. So what did the international community and the global military industry get in the form of an ATT - a tool to strengthen international security, a tool of diplomatic and competitive struggle, or a bunch of useless bureaucratic waste paper?
Proponents of the treaty constantly emphasize the fact that the ATT is the first legally binding instrument regulating the arms market at the global level. Indeed, there is a paradox: the world markets for bananas or pork are much better regulated than the arms market, while the threats to international security create much more. But this paradox is explainable - the arms trade treaty inevitably touches upon subtle issues of national security, which countries prefer to decide on their own, without external interference.
Attempts to introduce some rules of behavior in the arms market were made earlier. For the first time, the draft World Convention on the Arms Trade was advanced by the League of Nations in 1925. But there was always a group of countries that did not intend to fulfill the conditions of such agreements, which made the adoption of these documents a meaningless undertaking. More or less real possibilities for concluding a comprehensive arms trade treaty arose only after the end of the cold war.
The 1996 group of Nobel laureates, which included the former president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, the Dalai Lama, and the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, formulated the concept of the International Arms Trade Treaty. The Nobel laureates of the Peace Prize - people are often naive, they believe in good and humanity, so Arias and the company were no exception. Among other things, their project included the obligations of the largest companies in the military-industrial complex to deduct part of their profits to help victims of armed conflicts. The gunmen’s bosses were horrified at first, but then, looking back and making sure that not one of the leading arms exporting countries is going to even discuss the treaty in this form, they calmed down. However, Arias with the Dalai Lama did not surrender. At the beginning of the 21st century, their initiative group presented a more realistic draft code, called the Framework Convention on International Arms Transfers. The idea of deductions to victims of conflicts was thrown out of it (and really, who came up with such a heresy?), But another pivotal idea - to limit arms supplies to non-democratic and human rights-violating regimes in it. A little later, the project received its current name - the International Arms Trade Treaty (Arms Trade Treaty). He was welcomed by representatives of a number of human rights organizations, but in order to bring it onto the UN agenda, it was necessary to enlist the support of as many countries as possible.
Initially, the ATT was approved only by states that are difficult to attribute to powerful powers, like Costa Rica or Finland. However, in 2005, the project received the support of a permanent member of the UN Security Council - the United Kingdom. The question arises: why would it be the third largest military-industrial power in terms of the volume of arms exports to adopt a treaty, is this export limiting? It is obvious that in London they had already calculated: under certain conditions, the ATT can be used as a weapon of foreign political pressure and even competitiveness in the arms market. One way or another, thanks to the support of Britain, the question of discussing an ATT was put on the agenda of the 61 session of the UN General Assembly. 6 December 2006 The General Assembly adopted resolution 61 / 89, requesting to seek the views of Member States on the possibility of concluding, parameters and scope of a comprehensive, legally binding document establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons, and experts on the subject. Supporters of the treaty fit to rejoice, but that's bad luck: the largest player in the arms market, the United States, voted against the adoption of the resolution.
Well armed gentlemen
The position of the Americans was decisive for accepting or not accepting an ATTM. The only superpower, the largest exporter and one of the major importers of weapons, moreover, if the treaty is not supported by the main democracy and defender of all rights, then what is the demand with Liby and Sudans? The administration of President George W. Bush believed that the national export control system in the field of armaments is by definition a more effective tool to curb illicit supplies than any similar international systems. Moreover, the Americans were not satisfied with the proposal of the ATT supporters to accept the text of the treaty on the basis of a consensus of all UN member countries, which the United States considered unattainable in advance. The draft treaty could be put on the shelf, but then suddenly the presidential election was won by a Democratic candidate.
Barack Obama's election slogan was “Yes, we can!”, And trying to urgently find out what they really can, his administration supported the ATT. In addition, the new president was immediately given the Nobel Peace Prize, due to which the American leader had a certain corporate solidarity with Arias, the Dalai Lama and other supporters of the treaty.
But not everything was so simple. A number of conservative American politicians and research institutes opposed the support of the ATT. In their opinion, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, regardless of the conclusion of an agreement, will be able to gain access to weapons and military equipment. At the same time, by signing the treaty, America will limit the ability to support democracies, such as Israel, in their desire to protect their people. In the line of supporting the ATT, one of the fronts of the confrontation between the Democrats and the Republicans passed through. However, various societies of small arms owners, such as the National Infantry Organization (NRA), the Association of American Weapons Owners, the Sisters of the Second Amendment, and especially the harsh Jews for the preservation of the right to own weapons, showed the greatest resistance to the idea of the treaty. In the United States, these organizations are a powerful lobbying force. Suffice it to say that the largest of them, the NRA, has four million members in its ranks (for comparison, the number of the United Russia party is just over two million). Among the former members of this organization are about a dozen US presidents, among the current ones there are a lot of American celebrities, including Chuck Norris himself (he did not join the NRA, the NRA joined him). All these associations and societies have launched a powerful propaganda campaign aimed at convincing American inhabitants that the ATT is a direct threat to the sacred right of US citizens to own weapons, guaranteed by the second amendment to the country's constitution.
In fact, the draft of this treaty did not limit the ability of individuals to own weapons, but who cares about legal subtleties? The main thing was to present the Democrats, led by Obama, to spineless bureaucrats, ready to give the rights of American citizens to the mercy of an incomprehensible "international community." The propaganda campaign as a whole was crowned with success - now the support of the ATT threatened the democrats with a real loss of voters. And at that moment they flinch. On the last day of the diplomatic conference last July, at which the participating countries were preparing to approve the text of the agreement, the US delegation stated that it needed additional time for a detailed analysis of the text of the treaty and its possible consequences. The question came up this way: if Obama wins the elections in November 2012, then he will have the opportunity to support the treaty. If he loses to the Republican candidate, then the discussion of the ATT is transferred to a bright future. Obama defeated, and at the end of March 2013 of the country - UN members again gathered to approve the text of the treaty.
Born such a text
It was based on the draft chairman of the ATT preparatory committee, Roberto Moritán, who, in turn, was to a certain extent a mixture of the Arias initiative group and the EU Code of Conduct on military exports. The most important limiting part of the contract includes three points. The first two - the states undertake not to supply weapons in violation of UN Security Council sanctions and international treaties - one could not write. Security Council sanctions are already the highest diplomatic tool, the violation of which is followed by force actions of multinational forces (ask Saddam, although no, he is already dead). But the third point caused a lot of questions. States parties to the treaty pledge to prohibit transfers of conventional weapons systems if they have knowledge that the weapons supplied will be used to commit acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, in violation of the Geneva 1949 conventions of the year, for attacks against civilian targets and against civilians . First, what does “possess knowledge” mean? And if a country declares that it does not have any knowledge? As for attacks by civilian objects and the population, how to deal with situations typical for the modern world, when terrorists (“insurgents”, “freedom fighters” are underlined) are hiding behind the backs of the civilian population. Should the United States, in such a case, after the entry into force of the treaty, limit the supply of arms to Israel, which regularly bombed the Gaza Strip with American guided bombs? Not everything is so clear with the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of the Victims of the 1949 War of the Year, to which the treaty refers. They were largely written under the influence of the Second World War that had just ended and the Cold War that had begun, when the main type of conflict was war between regular armed forces of nation states. Now, military actions are conducted mainly between regular armies and irregular formations, no conventions and other nonsense are observed (they are poorly able to read, apparently). It is impossible not to take into account the typical battlefield that has changed significantly since 40-s. Rapid population growth and urbanization have significantly increased the size of the territory occupied by settlements, and most of the conflicts occur within them. Now to fight so as not to get at all on civilian objects, will not work. How, then, apply the rules of the ATT? If we strictly follow the letter of the treaty, then in general it is impossible to sell weapons to countries in which there are at least some internal conflicts. A number of states, primarily Syria, have already tried on the consequences of adopting the treaty in its current form.
On the other hand, the severity of the ATT is mitigated by the non-binding nature of its implementation. The decision on the supply of arms remains in any case with the exporting country. In addition, the text of the treaty does not contain any mechanisms for monitoring its execution and punishment for violators. Yes, there are UN Security Council sanctions, but they were without any ATT. The current text includes a reservation that the agreement does not apply to international transit of armaments carried out by the state for its own needs. In addition, the contract does not regulate in-country arms sales at all. There are other legal loopholes. The greatest danger, in the opinion of many states, including Russia, is the absence in the text of the obligation of the participating countries not to supply weapons to non-state unauthorized actors. With regard to the same Syria, this means that the government of the country after the entry of the ATT into force will most likely not be able to import weapons, but the terrorists fighting against it (“rebels” and “freedom fighters”) are completely. There are also useful norms in the treaty, say, the need for all member countries to create national systems for controlling the export of weapons and export lists, but from the point of view of international security these measures will not have a significant effect.
Accepted without looking
And here the text of the treaty, leaving more legal vacuum than a receipt prepared by some drunk provincial notary, was put to the vote of the UN General Assembly. What do you think, the countries - members of the UN responsibly approached such an important legal document? Required to clarify the concepts and wording? Sent it for revision? No, they accepted as if nothing had happened 154 with votes “for”. Where did that amount come from? First of all, it should be noted that the contract regulating the arms market does not really concern all countries. Well, you see, it would be difficult to expect scrupulousness in assessing the text of an ATT from states like Kiribati, Andorra or the Solomon Islands, which have no armed forces at all. Or approximately from about fifty states whose armies exist mainly to show visiting tourists. But all these countries in the framework of the General Assembly vote have the same weight as Russia or China. Generally speaking, the global arms market is about one and a half dozen significant exporters and fifty important importers, all the rest trade mainly in used weapons, occasionally, or even rely on military assistance programs. And now a representative, for example, Madagascar, sits on the General Assembly’s vote and thinks: “We are neither cold nor hot from this ATT, well, if America and Europe say they support, we will support it”.
As for the countries significant for the arms market, opinions are divided here. Understandable support for the treaty by the European Union. To a certain extent, the ATT can be viewed as a transfer of the ideas of the “Common Position of the European Union Countries on Exports of Military Products” adopted in 2008 to the global level. About the US said above, the election victory unleashed the Obama administration's hands, and another series of mass shootings in American schools undermined the position of opponents of the ATT in the country. But most of the other major players in the arms market abstained. Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, did not officially support the treaty because they refused to add a ban on the supply of weapons to the aggressor countries to which they include Israel. Russia, China and India were not satisfied with the vagueness of the wording of the treaty, which allow for different interpretations. In addition, our country supported the requirement to include in the text of the treaty obligations not to supply weapons to non-state unauthorized actors, which was not done. This was also demanded by Syria, which voted against the adoption of an ATT, and a number of other countries that have internal conflicts. However, the weight of 23 abstentions and three votes against the treaty was not enough, and the text was adopted. Here the question arises: where did the condition for accepting the text of a treaty go by consensus, which was discussed throughout its discussion? And he was simply forgotten - such are now in the world the order of adoption of international treaties.
The future of the ATT
According to the conditions for entry into force of the ATT, it is necessary that the 50 countries of the UN member states sign and ratify it. There is no doubt that the necessary quorum will be collected, the only question is in terms. If not until the end of 2013, then the contract will enter into force in 2014. And this will happen even if it is not ratified by the leading players in the arms market, for example, the United States. In order for the United States to validate a treaty, the Obama administration needs to enlist the support of two thirds of senators. Considering that at the moment, even among Democrats (53 senator from 100) there is no unity regarding support for the treaty, it can be assumed that it will not be possible to ratify it quickly. Great doubts about the support of the agreement by the parliaments of India, Russia and many other countries. But, I repeat, the contract will come into force without them.
And further implementation will begin. Considering the presence of a huge number of vague wording and, accordingly, a field for applying double standards, a great deal will depend on the first precedents of the use of treaty norms. Under these conditions, the information background created by the media around the supply of weapons to one or another country is of great importance. The victim of the ATTN No. 1 is the risk of becoming Syria, if, of course, the Assad regime lasts until the treaty enters into force. Moreover, the necessary information background (“a bloody regime that suppresses the freedom-loving people by force of arms”) has already been created around the government of the country. Doesn't Saudi Arabia limit supplies? One gets the impression that the contract is specially drafted in such a way as to take advantage of the media that shape public opinion in the West.
One year after the ATT comes into force, a conference of the countries parties to the treaty should take place, where its implementation will be discussed. There is no particular doubt that at this event the supply of Russian weapons to many countries would be criticized for being inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement (even if they correspond to its letter). And after six years, tougher amendments can be made to the text of the treaty, which will completely deprive our country of certain arms markets. Moreover, they will be adopted by the same “consensus” as the text of the treaty at the General Assembly. Thus, an ATT can become an instrument of both diplomatic pressure and competition. Well, what about the rights of victims of conflicts, etc., you ask. Everything goes to the fact that, using the example of the application of this treaty, we will have to make sure once again: only those who are stronger in the modern world. And all the others - only duties.