From July 13-17, 2009, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs will host the second session of an Open Ended Working Group on an Arms Trade Treaty to establish an international, legally binding agreement on how conventional arms should be imported, exported, and transferred. GlobalSolutions.org, along with other organizations, have signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton petitioning U.S. involvement in the development and enforcement of a strong, effective Arms Trade Treaty. While the previous administration was the sole opponent against the UN process on an Arms Trade Treaty, the Obama administration has expressed some openness to the project.
The upcoming Open Ended Working Group meeting will provide an excellent opportunity to address the issue of a largely unregulated international trade system. The lack of restrictions and supervision have fueled violent conflicts, facilitated serious violations of human rights, and helped armed insurgent groups around the world. However, if properly regulated, the global conventional arms trade could further the efforts of peace by providing weapons to states for legitimate national self-defense, peacekeeping, and law enforcement endeavors. As the world's largest exporter of arms, and as a nation with one of the most comprehensive arms export laws in the world, the United States could have a significant impact on the Arms Trade Treaty. The U.S. should not miss this opportunity to exercise its influence as a responsible, engaged partner in the treaty and as a respected advisor in global politics.