Obama Administration: Take Global Leadership in Forging Arms Trade Responsibility

Target: Obama Administration

Goal: Stop unnecessary violence and death by regulating the global arms trade

In 2009, the Obama administration announced that it was overturning the position of President George W. Bush’s administration, which opposed a global arms trade treaty on the ground that national controls were preferable. The change in position by the U.S., the world’s biggest arms exporter with a $55-billion-per-year trade in conventional firearms and 40 percent of the global total, was the impetus to formal negotiations at the United Nations and the drafting of the Arms Trade Treaty. As an international leader, the U.S. must use the momentum it has created to build global consensus against war profiteering and needless resultant deaths.

As it stands in draft form, the treaty would require all countries to establish stringent domestic parameters to control the transfer of conventional arms and to monitor the overstepping of these regulations by arms brokers or middlemen who arm warring groups. An effective Arms Trade Treaty would require nations to evaluate whether weapons transfers would fuel the violation of international human rights or humanitarian laws or be used to promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, or war crimes. Remind the Obama administration that the international community awaits their symbolic leadership in garnering solidarity for more responsible ownership and usage of conventional firearms.


Dear Obama Administration,

Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths result from the global arms trade each year. These tragedies will continue to occur so long as profit-minded nations and corporations put matters of money over respect for the individual. Without an international standard, conventional arms will continue to end up in the hands of hate mongers and warlords who use the ammunition we provide them to commit acts against innocent victims. Please put an end to these gratuitous killings by leading the way in creating a global coalition in opposition of such violence. End the global war profiteering mentality that human lives are expendable and resume talks between member states immediately.

The United States, as a global power and the world’s biggest firearms exporter, is in a position of influence on the matter. Maintain the integrity of the Obama administration and its overturning of the Bush administration’s refusal to accept international arms trade norms. Teach the world that pacifism is not feeble. The United States must proclaim that we live in a world where conflicts can be resolved through effective leadership, not gunfire. Demand that democracy serve as a means to peace rather than destruction of the enemy. Prevent the endless killing of civilians all over the world. Build on the momentum your administration has created, take a firm stance for global arms trade regulation via the UN Arms Trade Treaty and recommence this vital discussion to end impunity for the complicit arms trade.

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

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