UN Arms Traffic Pact in Final Round By EDITH M. LEDERER .c The Associated Press UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The 189 members of the United Nations negotiated into the early hours Saturday in a make-or-break effort to reach consensus on a plan to halt illegal trafficking in small arms, which kills an estimated 500,000 people every year. As closed-door talks continued past a midnight deadline, delegations were still wrangling over the hottest issues - a reference to civilian possession of small arms, limiting the trade only to governments, criteria for small arms exports and a follow-up to the conference. The United States made clear from the outset it would oppose any U.N. plan that interferes with the right of citizens to own guns and would reject any measure that would bar governments from supplying small arms to ``non-state actors,'' such as rebel groups. Diplomats said the U.S. delegation was not budging on either issue - even though virtually every other country wants arms transfers limited to governments or government-approved entities. Nonetheless, U.N. Undersecretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala said he was hopeful that delegates would reach consensus on a framework to curb small arms trafficking. ``The issues are too important to let it fall now,'' he said shortly before midnight. ``We've made a lot of progress ... so it would be a shame if they don't get a final document.'' Earlier, Belgian Ambassador Jean Lint, whose country holds the EU presidency, predicted a positive outcome. ``The conference is now in its final phase, where naturally everybody is very excited and trying to fight until the last minute for their own position. But some of the difficult issues are beginning to find a solution,'' he said in an interview. ``I don't think I'm mistaken in saying this will not be a failure,'' Lint said. But campaigners demanding tough controls on small arms exports fear the two-week U.N. conference will be a major failure. Underlying the difficulty in reaching an agreement are serious differences on how to tackle the illegal but lucrative small arms trade - with Canada and the European Union demanding much tougher regulations than the United States, China and some other arms producers. Whether the plan of action being debated can dent the problem remains a major question.
Now where would we be if Al Gores people were there doing the negotiating? GW delivered the goods here.
The United States made clear from the outset it would oppose any U.N. plan that interferes with the right of citizens to own guns and would reject any measure that would bar governments from supplying small arms to ``non-state actors,'' such as rebel groups. Diplomats said the U.S. delegation was not budging on either issue - even though virtually every other country wants arms transfers limited to governments or government-approved entities.
Small arms were the weapons of choice in 46 of the 49 major conflicts fought during the 1990s - in which 4 million people died, 90 percent of them civilian. According to U.N. estimates, between 40 percent and 60 percent of the more than 500 million small arms and light weapons in the world are illegal. And the trade in these illicit pistols, assault rifles, machine-guns and other light weapons is valued at about $1 billion annually. Amnesty International and Oxfam International, the British-based aid agency, said the prospect of delegates adopting a firm timetable for concrete action to stop the illegal small arms trade is negligible. ``The tragedy is that governments are moving to tackle small arms with a shameful sloth that will leave hundreds of thousands dead each year until real preventive action is taken,'' said Oxfam representative Ed Cairns. ``We are all very angry at the conference's failure,'' added Brian Wood of Amnesty, ``but (we) are determined to step up our campaigning to control small arms and cut the killing.'' For many delegates, the most important outcome is to ensure the conference is not a one-time event. All Western nations, with the exception of the United States, want provisions made for a follow-up meeting and eventually, a legally binding accord to enable authorities to trace supply lines for illegally trafficked weapons. The United States is wary of legal agreements on small arms and believes a mandatory follow-up conference is unnecessary. AP-NY-07-21-01 0037EDT
What did I tell you? It is [i][b]safer[b][i]to arm ones self and join in the struggle than to try and stay on the sidelines. Not the obvious connection, had those 3.6million people been armed most of them would probably be alive. It is efforts at disarmament that permit these killings. And actually most of the 4 million people who died in war in the 90's were killed by starvation and disease. Problems that possessing firearms still can help counter, if you are armed you can force people to give you supplies much more readily than if you arent.
Small arms were the weapons of choice in 46 of the 49 major conflicts fought during the 1990s - in which 4 million people died, 90 percent of them civilian.