International Law

The Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations at the UN

By Kenneth Anderson
Friday, July 6, 2012, 2:40 PM

This month of July sees negotiations at the UN in New York on a proposed arms trade treaty.  Duncan Hollis at Opinio Juris has an excellent introduction with many links.  Also at OJ, I offer some thoughts on a letter sent by some 130 Congressional lawmakers to the Obama administration warning it of conditions they will insist on for the US to join any resulting treaty.  In a second OJ post, I also offer an analysis of why "consensus" negotiations - which this effort in New York is - appear to offer the US a chance to play on its terms (because if seriously unhappy, it can bracket the item and refuse to allow consensus), but in fact are a trap for the unwary superpower.  'Consensus under conditions of hegemony' is fraught with problems for the US, mostly on account of its role with respect to the legitimacy of the system.  (This draws on a discussion about consensus negotiations and multilateral engagement from Chapter 2 of my book, Living with the UN (available on Kindle or you can also download a preview pdf that includes Chapter 2 at SSRN).)