As United Nations officials welcome the Christmas Eve entry into force of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), its progress in the U.S. remains hampered by significant Senate opposition and funding prohibitions included in appropriations legislation.
Most recently, the omnibus government funding bill passed by the Congress earlier this month contained new prohibitions on the administration using any funds to implement the conventional arms treaty. …
In October 2013, 50 U.S. senators signed a letter to President Obama pledging not to give advice and consent to the ATT. In order for a treaty to be ratified, no more than 33 senators can oppose it.
The opposition is a setback for the administration, which maintains that its hard-nosed stance during negotiations delivered a text that meets key U.S. priorities. Still, ATT critics are urging lawmakers in the new Congress to take steps to ensure the administration does not advance the treaty even if it is not ratified.
Alarm bells have been triggered by advocacy groups’ assertions that the treaty will form part of the broad body of international law, implying that even in the absence of Senate ratification the U.S. will be bound by its provisions.