Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The UN's Quarterback Sneak on Small Arms

How to stop small-arms sales?  "Customary law."  And--just as important--ignoring the role of governments, particularly those governments which are, frankly, illicit in se, or which choose to ignore the actions of murderous government-allied parties inside their own borders.

...Ultimately, UN CASA’s ISACS initiative is hoped to eventually result in customary international law.  Customary international law is the result of international administrative rule making which acquires the same weight as treaty law over time.  States can be bound by customary international law regardless of whether the states have codified these laws domestically.  Along with general principles of law and treaties, customary law is considered by the International Court of Justice, jurists, the United Nations, and its member states to be among the primary sources of international law.(9)...

There are a couple of problems with this (ignoring the Second Amendment matter pro tem.)

...The first assumption is that proliferation of small arms is a universal threat to humanity, or, alternatively, that greater availability of small arms means more gun deaths in a given society....

Students of history will understand that the most significant numbers of "gun deaths" in 3rd-world (and in some 1st-world) societies result from governmental action, or the utter lack of law enforcement (governmental IN-action).  Hutu/Tutsi wars, anyone?  Muslim/Christian conflicts?  Narco-trafficking?  Hello!!!???

Beyond that,

Clearly, the small arms situation in some places may indeed be out of control, and that this can poses a societal hazard.  But proliferation, i.e. the distribution of arms or expanding private ownership of arms, is not intrinsically a bad thing for everyone everywhere, especially in an ordered society.  Proliferation, in fact, can be a force for good even in a disordered societal situation.

The American experience alone invalidates the global causative relationship between small arms proliferation and human insecurity.   For example, trend data over the past nearly 20 years shows the US has been experiencing a phenomenal decline in gun-related deaths per 100,000 people.  Specifically homicides, suicides, and accidents have decreased 44%, 19%, and 69% respectively.

The second assumption is that there is a plague of international illegal weapons trafficking threatening humanity everywhere.

New research suggests the problem of illicit international trade in arms is not nearly as bad as first hypothesized over 10 years ago.  Humanitarian campaigners’ evidence about the vast size, global scope, and cataclysmic impact of international illicit trafficking simply does not exist.  Granted, it’s hard to quantify such illegal activity.  Nonetheless, the assertion that illicit international small arms trafficking is a major problem for the world has in fact been disproven over 10 years of progressively improved knowledge on the topic by academics and specialist researchers.

The inconvenient truth today for humanitarian campaigners for international small arms controls is that for most countries around the globe, even for most developing or fragile states, a combination of deficient domestic regulation of legal firearms possession with theft, and loss or corrupt sale from official inventories is a more serious problem than illicit trafficking across borders....

It's not likely that the US Senate, no matter its political composition, will sign on to any arms-limitation treaty, although there's no doubt that Obozo will elbow his way to the front of the "sign-here" line before losing office in January.

However, that "customary law" thing may require a courageous and principled stance from US political leadership in the next 10 years.

I'm not taking bets on that.

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