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UN Finally Closes Its Discussion on Arms...For Now

Friday, August 10, 2001

As previously reported, the "U.N. Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects" concluded with a final "Programme of Action" that posed no imminent threat to our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. However, many of the U.N.`s member states, along with anti-gun non-governmental organizations (NGOs), complained that more should be done to restrict law-abiding civilians from possessing firearms. The government of Colombia forced a discussion on further efforts to regulate firearms by the U.N. Security Council on August 2. The rotating presidency of the Security Council is held by Colombia for the month of August, which gives it the authority to make such a demand. The "debate" resulted in little more than a call by several nations to support efforts to severely restrict or outright prohibit the possession of firearms on a global basis. Secretary-General Koffi Annan told the Council the recent "Programme of Action" represented "significant first steps," and that it was "a beginning, not an end...." He encouraged "governments to continue to work on" the anti-gun provisions that were proposed in the "Draft Programme of Action," but did not make it into the final version.

U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham, however, reminded the Council that the role of the Security Council in implementing the "Programme of Action" was limited, and should remain so, saying, "My Government believes that the focus of the Conference, as reflected in the ‘Programme of Action,` was properly on the member states and their obligations and efforts to eliminate the illicit arms trade. Thus, the Security Council`s role is circumscribed. We do not believe that the Security Council should seek a more elaborate role, beyond its competence." While the close of the August 2 meeting brought an end to this round of U.N. discussions on firearms, it is clear that there are many member states that wish to continue the harangue, and wish to impose greater restrictions on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. And the "Programme of Action" calls for a new round of discussions in 2006, so this international debate is far from over.

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