A controversial United Nations arms treaty opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) was blocked Thursday by a rogue's gallery of North Korea, Iran and Syria.
The Obama administration did not object to the treaty even as the other countries prevented it from moving forward.
Because the treaty conference operates by consensus — a U.S. requirement — the objections mean the conference broke Thursday without an agreement. The treaty could still go before the U.N. General Assembly for a vote next week, however.
In a joint statement with 11 other nations, the Obama administration called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bring the treaty forward to the UN General Assembly for consideration "as soon as possible." A vote could take place as early as Tuesday.
The NRA has attacked the treaty as violating the Second Amendment, and argues it could restrict U.S. citizens’ abilities to purchase or possess firearms or ammunition. The group warned the Obama administration not to endorse it.
Advocates for the treaty say it would have no impact on domestic arms sales and would simply require the rest of the world to adopt arms export regulations in line with those in the United States.
"We applaud the Obama administration for standing on the right side of history and joining with other countries to call for a vote on the treaty at the General Assembly as soon as possible," Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement. "This treaty will save lives and completely ban arms shipments that will be used to commit the horrors of genocide, war crimes, and deliberate attacks on civilians. The world must not rest until it is adopted."
The Syrian delegate who objected to the treaty Thursday said it would not prevent the provision of weapons to “terrorists,” the Bashar Assad regime's word for the armed Syrian opposition. The treaty would require arms exporters to verify that their weapons did not have a high risk of being used to violate humanitarian law.
Even if the treaty were to clear the U.N. General Assembly with
the Obama administration's support, it would face a tough slog in Congress.
Last week, the Senate voted 53-46 in favor of an amendment from Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process MORE (R-Okla.) that calls for preventing the United States from joining the treaty. Ratification of the arms pact would require 67 votes in the Senate.
“We’re negotiating a treaty that cedes our authority to have trade agreements with our allies in terms of trading arms,” Inhofe said on the Senate floor. “This is probably the last time this year that you’ll be able to vote for your Second Amendment rights.”