Stimson in the News

Op-ed by Rachel Stohl on Unsigning the Arms Trade Treaty

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TRUMP UNSIGNS THE ARMS TRADE TREATY: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

You might have heard that President Donald Trump struck another fatal blow to multilateral diplomacy last week when he announced that the United States would withdraw its signature from the Arms Trade Treaty and would no longer seek to ratify the landmark agreement regulating the international trade in conventional weapons. With great flair and flourish, Trump signed a letter while onstage at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference asking for the Senate to return the Arms Trade Treaty to the White House so it could “be disposed of.” While this act may prove politically expedient for Trump in the short term, it is wrought with longer-term strategic and diplomatic challenges that could haunt the United States for years to come.

In remarks crafted to appeal to special interest groups, Trump repeated typical gun lobby talking points about the Arms Trade Treaty that demonstrate a willful mischaracterization of the treaty’s intent and effect. Commenting that the treaty threatens the rights of U.S. citizens, Trump exclaimed that “we will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom” and that “we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone.” Such statements not only reinforce a false narrative about the Arms Trade Treaty, but risk isolating the United States from its closest allies that remain committed to increasing responsibility, mitigating human rights abuses, and addressing security concerns associated with the unregulated global trade in conventional arms.

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