President Obama: U.S. Has a Responsibility to Help End Armed ViolencePDF Version
September 4, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
RE: July Arms Trade Treaty conference and the next steps
Dear Mr. President,
We appreciate your administration's stated support for the conclusion of negotiations for an effective Arms Trade Treaty at the July 2-27 UN Diplomatic Conference.
However, we were deeply disappointed to hear the head of the U.S. delegation announce on the morning of the final day that the administration still had concerns with the draft treaty text and needed more time to address them.
The decision by your team to stop short of the diplomatic finish line was surprising to us and to many of the governments at the conference given that the U.S. delegation succeeded in pressing other countries to support a July 26 draft treaty text that incorporated key U.S. positions and avoided U.S. redlines. Furthermore, none of the remaining concerns cited by the U.S. team on floor on the morning of July 27 appear to have been core treaty issues.
We agree with the assertion in the statement issued at the close of the conference by more than 90 countries, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, that: “We had expected to adopt such a draft Treaty today. Compromises have had to be made, but overall the text…put forward yesterday has the overwhelming support of the international community.” Like those states, we believe it should have been possible to wrap up loose ends on the final day.
The July 26 draft, if adopted, would help reduce enormous human suffering caused by irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering. With specific fixes, we believe its adoption should be supported by the United States and other major arms exporting and importing countries, and promptly.
With these points in mind, we encourage you, Secretary Clinton, and Ambassador Rice to work with other states at the UN General Assembly to build upon the July ATT conference and draft treaty text in order to open the way for the treaty's approval and opening for signature as quickly as possible.
We would ask you to provide some clarification regarding the specific issues that led the White House to hold back its support from the ATT draft treaty text and for an explanation for how the United States intends to proceed on the issue at the UNGA and beyond.
Surely, securing agreement on a sound treaty won't be easy. But we believe it can be achieved if responsible leaders from key countries work together in the weeks ahead.
We believe the United States, as the world's leading arms supplier, has a special responsibility to help achieve a robust ATT. It is also in the U.S. national security interest to protect American soldiers and the human rights and lives of innocent civilians caught up in dangerous conflicts fueled by the illicit and irresponsible international trade of conventional arms and ammunition.
Thanks for your consideration.
American Values Network
Amnesty International USA
Daryl G. Kimball,
Arms Control Association
William D. Hartung,
Director, Arms and Security Project,
Center for International Policy
Kathi Lynn Austin,
Conflict Awareness Project
Friends Committee on National Legislation
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
Vice President, Government Relations,
National Association of Evangelicals
Raymond C. Offenheiser,
Hon. Ross Robertson MP,
Assistant Speaker of Parliament (New Zealand), and President,
Parliamentarians for Global Action
STAND (the student-led division of United to End Genocide)
Thomas H. Andrews,
President and CEO,
United to End Genocide
CC: Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor
Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Tom Countryman, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation