The 2019 UN Arms Trade Treaty & A Strange Turn Of Events

Opinion By Alan J Chwick & Joanne D Eisen

United Nations Gun Control Arms Trade Treaty Fail iStock-Sakramir-534207072
The 2019 UN Arms Trade Treaty & A Strange Turn Of Events IMG iStock-Sakramir-534207072

United Nations – -( Everyone knew it was going to happen. It was planned for. The arms control community has been intently advocating for the last year. They want gender parity, and they are going to get gender parity.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) proponents were finally in charge of a legally binding treaty, Draft ATT 2013, that promised to control global arms and create a global culture of peace. What happened?

In their own words, Failure Happened.

Proponents all began to recognize that the treaty was and is failing mightily. They fully understand that the ATT has not been effectively implemented and is not preventing arms transfers into violent areas. Allison Pytlak of the Non-Governmental Organization Reaching Critical Will complained about, “flagrant displays of non-compliance that are eroding the Treaty’s impact and external credibility.

So what did they do in Geneva, Switzerland from August 26-30, 2019, at the fifth meeting of participating ATT countries known as CSP5? They pivoted and changed the goal, thereby postponing recognition of the depth of their failure. Now gender parity is the new great diversion of time and energy.

Do they expect that women might be more persuasive? Can women delude more people into believing that the ATT is a great deal for countries and individuals? Or are women planning a stronger, more dominating approach? Will women offer a solution to violence that might work?

What do you think?

So proponents organized a soft coup! Instead of focusing on how to overcome the failures of the ATT, they became hypnotized by what they perceived as a lack of attention to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the unequal participation of women in ATT policy-making activities. They could win this one. Like a drug-sniffing dog in training, they needed a win.

Ambassador Janis Karklins of Latvia, president of CPS5, wrote on January 2019 that there was a discussion during preparatory meetings and early support for encouraging greater gender balance. He also explained the types of gender-based violence, “While men and boys tend to be among the most direct fatalities of warfare, women and girls are more directly impacted in terms of displacement, health, sexual violence, and coercion.”

Allison Pytlak, regarding the lack of gender equality, noted, “The decision for gender and GBV to be the thematic focus for CSP5 is changing that.

Excuse me? Shouldn’t the thematic focus remain arms control and peace?

And if not possible, shouldn’t the next step be a serious examination of the real culprits – the tyrants who are creating situations where violence thrives?

Oh, sorry. Shhhhhhhhh. The UN is run by those tyrants, and so the elephant in the room must remain unnoticed.

So the President of CPS5 presented a Draft Decision of the CPS5 on Gender and Gender-Based Violence to the ATT meeting. Not only would there be greater attention paid to creating parity between men and women at future meetings, but participating countries would be “encouraged to collect disaggregated data within their national crime and health statistics, including gender-disaggregated data on victims of armed violence and conflict, and make this data publically available.”

Disaggregating this data can become difficult as even death rates are nearly impossible to obtain.

We must note here, that a great burden of arms trade information reporting is required of nations whose best interests are not served by complying with treaty demands and who also have financial and organizational difficulty in providing treaty data.

We also note that there is, at present, incomplete reporting of information, required by the treaty, of the participating countries. Requiring even more complex data is certainly counterproductive.

The news from proponent Allison Pytlak is damning. She admits, “The number of countries submitting annual reports is dropping…and the decrease … so early on in the life of a Treaty is hugely problematic, as is the uneven quality and detail in the information submitted.” This, for the US gun community, is very good.

Frank Slijper, of the civil society group Pax, complained that only half of participating countries submitted the required annual report. Since fewer than half of the world’s nations are ATT participants, and only half of those have complied with reporting requirements, that means only about a quarter of the world’s nations have given required trade information to the treaty secretariat. Also very good for the US gun community.

That’s not nearly enough for even a dream of success, for a treaty implementation. And since disaggregating GBV data into male or female can be confusing, what is the benefit of adding such demands on countries when the path to full transparency of data is already one of the main difficulties toward successful treaty implementation? Why speed reporting failure when this information could be more easily obtained by other means?

Or, perhaps, is the entire treaty apparatus so mired in mucky failure that the ATT officials are grabbing at any excuse that permits them to postpone their acknowledgment of failure? After all, they have nowhere else to go. They are already at the goal that they thought should have paved the way to success – a treaty that offers global and legal control of arms.

But UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, admitted that there had been a 7.8 % estimated increase in the international arms trade in the five years since the signing of the ATT. This figure is confirmed by BBC business reporter Tim Bowler who estimates that the figure is about 10 % higher for about the same period.

However, while arms manufacturers and arms dealers are doing better, the financial aspects of the ATT are floundering. Participating countries are not paying up. The ATT is at “a point of extreme financial difficulty.

Meanwhile, when the Latin American and African states, who were in arrears, found out that they might lose access to needed resources, they became angry. The representative from the Dominican Republic noted that the treaty would turn into an “exclusive club” of ATT countries; “seem to be rowing backwards, not fowards…”

So, the solution was to table the discussion until next year. Ray Acheson and Allison Pytlak commented, “In the disarmament world, this is considered to be a relatively significant victory these days.” We kid you not.

We gunnies are logical thinkers and so, what went on, might seem strange to us, almost insane or stupid. It’s what our left does that allow them to lie so constantly.

So we can conclude that there is still no current real arms treaty, and they do not intend to stop trying to create one.

Here’s the admission. Ray Acheson complains, “The key sentiment expressed by most delegations was that the Treaty potential as a humanitarian, life-saving mechanism is not yet appropriately utilized. Implementation failures…mean that the flow of weapons – and thus the violence – has not been significantly curtailed.”

Here’s the truth. “It is frustrating that we cannot claim even limited success thus far.

And here’s the dreamlike lie.

Acheson continues, “Of course, non-compliance with the ATT’s restrictions and prohibitions does not mean the Treaty is useless or bad. On the contrary, it is to say that states parties…need to get serious about their obligations, fully implement the Treaty, and stop putting profits above people.”

No, the arms control crowd can’t see further than the fake dream of peace through disarmament.

We are going to live with this crazed crowd, for a while.

About the Authors:

Alan J Chwick has been involved with firearms much of his life and is the Retired Managing Coach of the Freeport NY Junior (Marksmanship) Club. He has escaped from New York State to South Carolina and is an SC FFL ( | TWITTER: @iNCNF

Joanne D Eisen, DDS (Ret.) practiced dentistry on Long Island, NY. She has collaborated and written on firearm politics for the past 30+ years. She has also escaped from New York State but to Virginia.