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US President Trump announces to withdraw from UN Arms Trade Treaty; US imposes sanction on Pakistan - Current Affairs

US President Donald Trump rejected the United Nations' 2013 Arms Trade Treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade. The treaty seeks to regulate the flow of weapons into conflicted zones. It requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that can be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.

Apr 30, 2019 12:16 IST
US President Donald Trump

Story 1: US President Trump announces to withdraw from UN Arms Trade Treaty

US President Donald Trump on April 26, 2019 rejected the United Nations' 2013 Arms Trade Treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade. Trump announced to “unsign” the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), describing it as a misguided document and an intrusion on US sovereignty.

Trump states, “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom”.

Trump said that the US Senate never ratified the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty despite his predecessor Barack Obama having endorsed it. The US President also made it clear that he will never ratify the treaty.

What is the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty?

The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) came into effect in December 2014 after over 65 countries of the world signed it on June 3, 2013.

The treaty was discussed at the global conference from in July 2012 in New York, however, no agreement was reached at that time. Finally, on April 2, 2013, the Arms Trade Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

The UN General Assembly endorsed the Arms Trade Treaty on a vote of 154 to 3. While some countries were absent, the only nations opposed to the ATT were Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

The treaty seeks to regulate the flow of weapons into conflicted zones. It requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that can be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.

So far, while 130 countries have originally signed the treaty, only 101 ratified and joined it.

The world's largest arms traders including the United States, China and Russia have not joined the treaty.

Objective of Arms Trade Treaty

• Every minute, one person dies because of armed violence. Arms Trade Treaty is required for controlling the unrestrained flow of the arms as well as ammunition.

• The aim of this Arms Trade Treaty is to set the standards for the purpose of cross-border transfers of weapons ranging from attack helicopters to tanks.

• The treaty creates requirements for all the countries to review the cross-border contracts in order to make sure that these weapons would not be used for the illegal purposes such as organised crimes, human rights abuses, violation of humanitarian law as well as terrorism.

Provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty

• The Arms Trade Treaty covers light weapons, attack helicopters, battle tanks, missile launchers, warships, missiles, armoured combat vehicles, small arms and large-calibre artillery systems.

• The treaty proscribes the countries that ratify the treaty from transferring conventional weapons in case these weapons promote genocide or violate the arms embargoes.

• The treaty additionally forbids export of these conventional arms in case these arms could be used in the attacks on civilian buildings or civilians.

• If a country wants to consider whether the export of arms should be authorised or not, it should evaluate the weapons on grounds of violation of human rights laws or their employment for terrorist activities or organised crimes.

• The treaty also requires all the countries for taking the measures in order to prevent diversion of the conventional weapons to illicit markets.

List of US withdrawals

President Trump's decision to un-sign the Arms Trade Treaty is the latest illustration of his aversion to international pacts and world governance. Have a look:

1. US pulls out of UN’s migrant and refugee pact

The United States has withdrawn itself from a United Nations pact to improve the handling of migrant and refugee situations deeming it ‘inconsistent’ with its immigration policies.

2. US President Donald Trump signs executive order to pull US out of TPP

Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 23, 2017, immediately after his accession to power, to formally pull the country out of the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the major international trade initiatives of Barack Obama. Trump felt the partnership to be harmful to American workers and manufacturing.

3. Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris Agreement on Climate Change

President Donald Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris agreement to fight climate change, stating that the accord would undermine US economy, cost US jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.

4. US withdraws from UNESCO

The United States and its ally Israel announced on October 12, 2017 that they were pulling out of the UN's culture and education body, UNESCO, accusing it of anti-Israel bias.

5. US regulators repeal net neutrality rules

The United States Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on December 14, 2017 to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order which protects net neutrality in the United States.

6. US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

The President Donald Trump on May 8, 2018 announced US withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Trump stated that the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France and Britain, was a "horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made."

7. United States withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

Nikki Haley, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on June 19, 2018 announced the US withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). However, Haley asserted that United States will continue to promote human rights outside of the council and would consider rejoining it in the future, if reforms are made.

8. US to end India's preferential trade treatment under GSP programme

Trump informed the US Congress on March 4, 2019 that he intends to end India's preferential trade treatment under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The GSP programme allows USD 5.6 billion worth of Indian exports to enter the United States duty-free.

9. US pulls out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia

Trump announced on February 1, 2019 that the United States will pull out of the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which it had signed with Russia during the Cold War.

Story 2: US imposes sanction on Pakistan; may deny visas to Pakistanis

The United States on April 26, 2019 imposed sanctions on Pakistan after the nation refused to take back its citizen deportees and visa over-stayers from America.

As a result of such sanctions, mentioned in a Federal Register notification dated April 22, the US may withhold visas of Pakistanis beginning with its senior officials.

However, the consular operations in Pakistan will continue as of now.

Sanctions imposed under Immigration and Nationality Act

With these sanctions, Pakistan is the latest to join the list of 10 nations imposed with sanctions under the US Immigration and Nationality Act according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers will be denied American visas.

Ghana and Pakistan have been included in the list this year. The other countries include Guyana in 2001; Gambia in 2016; Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2017; Burma and Laos in 2018.

Under Section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the US Secretary of State is required to discontinue with the granting of immigration or non-immigrant visas to a nation upon receiving notice that the country has denied or is delaying accepting citizen, subject or resident of that country.

The section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was used only twice before 2017; however, after coming to power, the Trump Administration has been effectively using this provision on many countries, including Pakistan.

For some countries, sanctions began by targeting officials who work in the ministries responsible for accepting the return of that country’s nationals and then sanctions escalated to other categories of applicants if initial move did not prove effective at encouraging cooperation from the targeted government.

Impact of such sanctions on Pakistan

Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, believes that the sanctions will make things difficult for Pakistanis.

It will create difficulties for Pakistanis who want or need to travel to the US. Such a situation could have been avoided if Pakistani authorities had not ignored American requests to respect their legal requirements for deportation.