Discussion

Restrict the arms trade?

 

The attempts to get an arms trade treaty that have been going on for most of the month (see our forum topic Will the UN succeed in creating a binding arms trade treaty?) have ended in failure. The proposals would have needed to be adopted by consensus and with more than 170 nations involved in the negotiations persuading everyone to sign on to an agreement was always going to be difficult. As William Hague has said “to be fully effective, the treaty will need very broad – ideally universal – participation.”

In particular both Russia and the United States would need to be on board as two of the biggest manufacturers of weapons and neither was willing to commit just yet arguing they needed more time to clarify and resolve issues they had with the draft. The United States is the biggest arms manufacturer in the world and is well known for having used arms supplies as a policy in the past; often arming rebel groups to fight governments who the US disagrees with such as the Afghanistan Mujahedeen while fighting the USSR. Such a treaty would make these policies even more illegitimate than they already are.

However just because negotiations have failed in the last month of talks does not mean that there will be no arms trade treaty. Negotiations will simply move to the United Nations General Assembly where it could be adopted by a two thirds majority so it almost certainly already has the votes.

Debatabase debate: This House believes that the UN should restrict arms sales to rogue nations http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/international-affairs/house-believes-un-should-restrict-arms-sales-rogue-nations

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/28/arms-trade-treaty-william-hague

Well, I don't know if it's possible in the short term but the restricting of the arms trade is indeed an ideal goal to strive for. I for one think that everyone must apply pressure to the United States and to Russia to join in. I do know that it is somewhat hard to achieve but you'd have trouble getting them to jump into the bandwagon otherwise .

Also it would also help to see the citizens of the respective countries show their support of the restriction and put their own pressure on their governments. I don't have any statistics on hand and my limited internet connectivity prevents me from actually looking for one, but I do see that there is an effort to pressure their governments to stop trading arms, but it's not enough pressure just yet.

How much of an effect would having it passed at the UN Generaly Assembly have on the arms trade per say if individual corporations in the US still continue on trade of arms under the basis "we didn't vote for it" . Would that be a possible outcome ?

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

How much of an effect would having it passed at the UN Generaly Assembly have on the arms trade per say if individual corporations in the US still continue on trade of arms under the basis "we didn't vote for it" . Would that be a possible outcome?

I am not sure how much this matters in practice as there is no legal authority above the states - it would be very hipocrytical but no one can stop a state from signing a treaty and then not paying any attention to it. 

Therefore I think you are right that the negotiations really need to get both Russia and the United States on board as they are likely to ignore any treaty that they are not a party to. However whether it makes any difference to these states whether it is accepted at the UNGA or not I dont know.

I dont see any need to restrict guns and rifles. It is perfectly legitimate for people to want to have weapons to defend themselves, their property, and their family. It is equally legitimate to want to use these weapons for activities such as hunting. As such there should not be restrictions.

However some restriction of bigger weaponry such as tanks and mines makes a certain amount of sense; as much as I believe the free market should be free it does not make sense to sell someone weapons if they are only going to turn them on you in a couple of years. Therefore care should be taken in who arms are sold too. But this would equally be the case regardless of whether there is a a treaty or not.

True enough, ideally this would be the case, the moderation of the arms trade without the need for the treaty, but as it stands today that's  bit of a problematic issue since the arms trade is extremely lucrative for people and that same source of revenue, without a firm stance against it, would be enough reason for them to want to sell to these alternate parties so long they are willing to buy. To them, it's all about the money, or at the very atleast that's the precedent I see from the previous conflicts.

 

And although I do agree there should be no need to restrict guns and rifles and the sort, we do have to make sure that those in possession of these weapons are of sane mind (hence gun licenses in the first place, of course, we can't enforce this on other countries, therefore we restrict the flow in the first place)

 

But that's just an opinionated view, what say you ?

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

that's  bit of a problematic issue since the arms trade is extremely lucrative for people and that same source of revenue, without a firm stance against it, would be enough reason for them to want to sell to these alternate parties so long they are willing to buy. To them, it's all about the money, or at the very atleast that's the precedent I see from the previous conflicts.

Yes companies are only in business in order to make a profit and that is as it should be. In cases where individuals lives are at risk then the state is there. Countries already grant export licences for these things... it is in the companies interest to sell sell sell and the state's interest to work out when that should be restricted.

Hence my argument was that a treaty is not going to make much difference. Are countries really going to be more restrictive just because they have signed a piece of paper when there is the prospect of bringing in jobs?

Alastair Stevens wrote:

Mohamad Haziq wrote:

that's  bit of a problematic issue since the arms trade is extremely lucrative for people and that same source of revenue, without a firm stance against it, would be enough reason for them to want to sell to these alternate parties so long they are willing to buy. To them, it's all about the money, or at the very atleast that's the precedent I see from the previous conflicts.

Yes companies are only in business in order to make a profit and that is as it should be. In cases where individuals lives are at risk then the state is there. Countries already grant export licences for these things... it is in the companies interest to sell sell sell and the state's interest to work out when that should be restricted.

Hence my argument was that a treaty is not going to make much difference. Are countries really going to be more restrictive just because they have signed a piece of paper when there is the prospect of bringing in jobs?

Granted that countries grant export licences, but the granting of licenses can be restricted by means of the treaty. Although yes, I do have to concede that they will most likely ignore the signed contract, mainly because it is one of the few sectors that contribute a considerable sum and is still expanding with economic "recession", but countries would be more catious then that because it may effect the income from other sources.

I highlighted early on as did Alex, that we can't really do much about it if they decide to go against the treaty they signed, which is why a show of support from the major arms traders, USA and Russia, would be most preferable instead of having it passed on a majority vote. At the very least, the states and russia would have to implement some restrictions to arms in trade to make atleast an outward show of support for the treaty.

 

Alastair Stevens wrote:

I dont see any need to restrict guns and rifles. It is perfectly legitimate for people to want to have weapons to defend themselves, their property, and their family. It is equally legitimate to want to use these weapons for activities such as hunting. As such there should not be restrictions.

The best way to prevent people from getting killed by guns is to prevent everyone from having guns. The idea that having guns is necessary to enable people to defend themselves assumes that there is an assailant with a gun to defend yourself against. Therefore the restrictions on the arms trade are necessary to make sure that this assailant does not have a gun with which to attack you. You then in turn dont need a gun to defend yourself.

Everyone is safer when there are very few guns.

Alastair Stevens wrote:

However some restriction of bigger weaponry such as tanks and mines makes a certain amount of sense; as much as I believe the free market should be free it does not make sense to sell someone weapons if they are only going to turn them on you in a couple of years. Therefore care should be taken in who arms are sold too. But this would equally be the case regardless of whether there is a a treaty or not.

 

 

I agree with your belief that there should be some form of moderation and regulation in the arms trade, because there is always the inevitable potential that the person/group who bought the weaponry could go against the seller of the arms one day. Just like Osama Bin Laden from the Afghanistani Mujahideen that caused the tragic 9/11 incident even though America provided military and financial aid to Mujahideen for resistance against the Soviet Union in the course of the Cold War. Restriction of the arms trade is, therefore, necessary for the sellers as well (despite the profit) as it may be associated with the security of not only themselves but also the society in the future.

This ties back to the idea that a certain extent of restriction on the freedom of anything is necessary for the benefit of the majority and the society as a whole. For instance, it is only through the restriction of absolute freedom of speech and action that massive hate speeches and ruthless murders are prevented. Nothing is absolute. So taking into consideration the security of all three parties involved - the sellers, buyers and the society, restriction of "free arms trade" is necessary.  

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