Nations who are party to the Arms Trade Treaty are holding their fourth annual meeting this week in Tokyo, Japan. I’m attending the meeting as a representative of The Heritage Foundation.
Supposedly, the purpose the treaty is to apply humanitarian standards to the international arms trade. Actually, the treaty is a pointless talking shop and a box-checking exercise, with a generous dash of blame America first and a little spice added by the gun-control supporters who cluster on its periphery.
But words alone can’t pay the bills for this meeting, or for the treaty’s secretariat, which keeps the treaty going between the annual meetings. The treaty runs on the contributions paid by the nations that have signed it or attend its annual meetings. The problem is that a lot of those nations don’t want to pay up.
The treaty’s 2018 budget is $975,927—a nice little chunk of change, but not a lot for an international organization. Fortunately for it, the treaty had $270,370 left in the bank from previous years, so the treaty nations were only on the hook for about $705,000.
Of that total, they’ve paid only $533,000, leaving a deficit of $172,000. This shortfall isn’t new. In 2015-2016, nations underpaid their bills by $116,000, and in 2017 by $129,000. In total, nations have under-paid their bills by 15 percent, or about $418,000.
In theory, the treaty has nearly a hundred nations devoted to it in word and deed. But in practice, the treaty runs on the checks cut by its most important funders—the two most generous of whom are Japan and the United States. The U.S. is paying to sit here and be abused.
The U.S. unwisely signed the treaty in 2013 under President Barack Obama, but there is no prospect that the Senate will ratify it soon, or ever. In fact, over half the Senate explicitly opposes the treaty. Congress has repeatedly banned funding to implement it.
Yet the U.S. payments continue. Over the past three years, the U.S. has paid in over $262,000. These funds have not gone merely to pay for the four seats the U.S. delegation is currently occupying in front of me. They are paying a substantial part of the budget of the treaty secretariat, which is, in its own words, responsible for “assist[ing] states parties in the effective implementation of the treaty.”
Under the terms of the congressional ban, this U.S. contribution is indefensible.
Moreover, it buys the U.S. nothing. It does not get the U.S. into the conference room—this room is full of nations that are not paying their bills. Nor does it buy the U.S. any goodwill, as the U.S. is, along with the United Kingdom and Israel, one of the few nations regularly condemned by name in the meeting.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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