A Reminder To the UN Programme Of Action From SAF’s Julianne Versnel

For those that don’t know, the Second Amendment Foundation is an accredited NGO (non-governmental organization) at the United Nations. Julianne Versnel, SAF’s Director of Operations, has represented the SAF at a number of UN conferences and meeting. Today she represented them at the UN Programme of Action conference.

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today reminded the United Nations that “if women have the right to be protected against violence, then they have the right to protect themselves against violence.”

So spoke SAF’s Director of Operations Julianne Versnel, whose remarks to the U.N. Programme of Action conference were unlike anything many delegates had ever heard before. The conference is seen as the first step toward rekindling discussions about an on-going process to continue development of a small arms and light weapons treaty, which earlier this summer collapsed when several nations opposed it.

Noting that she had reviewed what has already been written and said about the violence against women as it relates to the Programme of Action, Versnel emphasized that, “I am struck by what is not said.”

“If there is a basic sanctity of a woman’s person,” she observed, “if there is a right to not be a victim of sexual or personal violence, then that right involves the right to defend one’s self.”

Versnel stressed that any new global gun control initiatives must “do nothing to disarm women who legitimately and rightfully want to defend themselves.”

While international gun prohibitionists have been pushing a civilian disarmament agenda, Versnel’s warnings may open up a new and politically uncomfortable arena. It is impossible to dismiss female victims of violence as “male American gun nuts.”

“The drive for human rights is a force throughout the world,” Versnel stated, “and especially here at the U.N. A woman’s right to be free from violence is a fundamental human right. That fundamental right is to defend one’s self. The report of this conference should state that without reservation.”

SAF’s Final Report From The UN Conference On Arms Trade

Julianne Versnel’s final report from the UN’s Third Preparatory Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty is below. Thank god someone is keeping an eye on this.

Amb. John Bolton and the Bush State Department told these folks to pound sand. Those times are past and the Obama Administration thinks the ATT is just hunky-dory. Given that the treaty will be ready in the next couple of years, it isn’t too soon to start writing your Senators about this treaty. Like all treaties, the Arms Trade Treaty must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate to go in effect in the United States. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

FINAL REPORT on the Third Preparatory Committee (Prep Comm) meeting for the Arms Trade Treaty that ended on July 15, 2011.

By Julianne Versnel, Second Amendment Foundation Director of Operations

With the Chairman’s Draft Paper distributed on July 14, 2011, it is apparent that small arms and ammunition will be included in the ATT final draft that will be hammered out at the month-long negotiating conference in July 2012. Small arms and ammunition have been the focus of much of the discussions by the delegates. While this was expected from many less developed states, the vehement and strident comments suggesting the scope of the proposed ATT be broadened by Australia, Sweden, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland and Norway were somewhat surprising.

This meeting had over 375 requests for registrations by NGOs and other interested parties. This was not an open meeting and specific permission had to be received so that registration could even be made. This is an unprecedented number.

A member of the UN staff asked me on the first day of the meeting why there were so many people who wanted to attend this conference. The First and Second Prep Comms meetings had had about 100 and 125 NGOs in attendance respectively. As the week progressed, the answer to the question became obvious. This conference is about firearms and ammunition. Just as this is an emotional issue that elicits strong feelings from Americans, so it is in the rest of the world.

The great majority of those attending were from organizations that deal almost exclusively with small arms. On July 14, 2011, NGOs were allocated one hour to make statements. Control Arms, a Survivors’ Declaration and IANSA spoke and were followed by remarks by the National Rifle Association, World Forum for the Future of Sports Shooting Activities and Defense Small Arms Advisory Committee. There was no presentation that discussed any part of the scope of the treaty beyond firearms and ammunition.

The fourth and final Prep Comm is to take place in mid February 2012. While this has been described as a technical conference, there is little likelihood that there will actually be further discussion for expanding the scope and reach of the ATT to be presented the following July.

The Second Amendment Foundation remains vigilant in covering the progress of the upcoming United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

A Report From The UN Conference On Arms

Julianne Versnel is the Director of Operations for the Second Amendment Foundation. She, along with Alan Gottlieb, spent all of last week attending the United Nations Third Preparatory Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Here is her report on seeing the draft ATT that was released on Thursday, July 14th.

Today, the most recent Chairman’s Draft Paper for the Arms Trade Treaty was distributed. Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan authored the outline for the proposed ATT based on consultation, discussion and guidelines decided upon in this and the two previous Preparatory Conference meetings. This document dated 14 July 2011 covers the Scope, Criteria, Implementation and Final Provisions that are expected to be in the ATT presented for discussion in July 2012.

The Preamble under item six, “recognizes the sovereign right of States to determine any regulation of internal transfers of arms and national ownership exclusively within their territory, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership.” This language is a direct response to the serious reservations expressed by the U.S. and other delegations.

Unfortunately after this comes the Scope of the proposed treaty. This includes along with tanks, Artillery Systems, Naval Vessels and Missile Systems–small arms and all ammunition for these small arms.

While acknowledging a constitutional right, the criteria and record keeping requirements proposed in the treaty would necessitate the special marking of all firearms (IV, 1, h) and more critically all ammunition (IV, 1, j). The costs involved in both the physical marketing and recordkeeping are enormous. The proposed document also includes the creation of an Implementation Support Unit (VI, G-1) with yearly reporting and records kept for a minimum of 10 years. (V1, B-1).

Another egregious proposal is the Victim Assistance proposal. (VI, F) This provision is one that has been presented repeatedly at Programme of Action and Conference of Parties meetings. Many African, Southern American, Central American and Caribbean countries have proposed that manufacturers contribute to a fund based on their sales. Alternately they would assess fees on countries based on the value of its arms exports.

As the ATT moves closer to its final form, it is imperative that we realize that the technical requirements and definitions still to be determined are very dangerous. Much of the debate on these will take place in side events that are very often closed to NGOs.

The US already has the most stringent import and export requirements for firearms in the world. While this proposed treaty is supposed to be about conventional weapons, the focus in the discussions is on small arms, the very firearms that our US Constitution guarantees us the right to bear.

The Second Amendment Foundation remains vigilant and will continue monitoring this Arms Trade Treaty. We will not remain silent in our fight to maintain your right to keep and right and bear arms. We cannot trust the very organization that devised and administered the oil for food program in Iraq to respect our Constitutional rights—particularly the right to keep and bear arms.