Canada asked to sign Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations’ High Representative for Disarmament, Angela Kane, is among those asking Canada to sign the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (Lee Berthiaume, “UN disarmament rep Angela Kane encourages Canada to approve arms trade treaty,” Postmedia News, 4 December 2013):

The UN’s top disarmament chief is encouraging Canada to sign an international arms trade treaty, disputing the gun lobby’s suggestions that the agreement will hurt lawful gun owners.

“It does not at all deal with domestic gun ownership,” UN High Representative for Disarmament Angela Kane said in an interview Tuesday. “We’ve tried very hard from the United Nations, but also from other member states, to say: ‘It’s got nothing at all to do with this.’ ” …

Kane, who is in Ottawa for a conference, said Canada “is a large country with a lot of wildlife, so I can imagine you have a lot of hunters who are saying, ‘Not in my backyard.’ I can understand that.”

But she said there has been a great deal of misinformation spread about the arms trade treaty, “and once it’s taken root, it’s very difficult to eradicate it from the population.”

“We called it a disarmament treaty, but it’s really not a disarmament treaty because it doesn’t disarm,” she added. “It simply regulates what is being exported to other countries.

“You, as a Canadian, you can have however many guns you want. That treaty will not affect it. It deals with the trade aspect, it does not deal with the ownership aspect.”

Kane said the treaty is more important now than ever because the global sale of arms has been steadily increasing, which has contributed to war and instability in countries like Syria and Somalia.

She appealed to Canadians’ sense of morality in encouraging the government to sign, adding: “Canada is an important player in the world community and I think that whatever you do is being noticed. And by not signing it, that is also being noticed.

“So it is very much my hope that Canada will come around and sign the arms trade treaty.

So far 115 countries have signed the treaty, including the United States.

Kane also said she hoped Canada would “come to the right conclusion” concerning the international ban on cluster munitions:

The Conservative government has received widespread international criticism for proposing a loophole that would let Canadian soldiers use cluster munitions while in joint operations with U.S. forces.

While Kane would not speak specifically to the government’s proposal, she said the addition of any loophole sets a bad precedent that threatens to undermine the ban.

“If there’s a loophole being created in one country, another country will say: ‘Well, if they can do it, why can’t I?’ ” she said.

Some arms-control groups have alleged a trend in the Conservative government’s approach to guns, namely one that adheres to the firearms lobby’s wishes rather than championing human rights and international peace and stability.

Kane said such a trend would be “regrettable,” though she remained optimistic that Canada would live up to its hard-earned international reputation and take the broader view.

“Canada has always been such an upstanding global citizen,” she said. “And I would like to see that this kind of greater spirit, which I think Canada has always possessed in abundance, prevailing also in this case.”

Tags: Angela Kane, Arms exports, Arms industry, Arms Trade Treaty, ATT, Canada, Canadian arms exports, Canadian foreign policy, Gun Lobby, NRA