As we’ve said before, the UN usually takes a beating during campaign season. The latest candidate to get in on the action is Fred Thompson, who in an ‘exlusive email’ to the Gun Nut blog of Field and Stream, rails against a UN plot to take guns away from law abiding Americans.
Says Thompson, “Last year, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights declared that international human rights law requires all nations to adopt strict gun control laws. These “minimum” provisions are much more restrictive than any of those on the books anywhere in the U.S. and would almost certainly violate the Second Amendment of our Constitution.”
I’m no fancy big city lawyer — and I certainly don’t play one on TV — so I am hard-pressed to find something in this document that would violate Americans’ second amendment rights. But, like I said, I’m no lawyer. Decide for yourself. Here are the offending paragraphs from the very brief August 2006 declaration of the Human Rights Council Sub-commission to which Thompson refers:
Urges States to adopt laws and policies regarding the manufacture, possession, transfer and use of small arms that comply with principles of international human rights and international humanitarian law;
Also urges States to provide training on the use of firearms by armed forces and law enforcement personnel consistent with basic principles of international human rights and humanitarian law with special attention to the promotion and protection of human rights as a primary duty of all State officials;
Further urges States to take effective measures to minimize violence carried out by armed private actors, including using due diligence to prevent small arms from getting into the hands of those who are likely to misuse them;
As you can see, these are pretty broad directives. And as you can see, no country is required to do anything. In fact, the only UN body that can require something of a member state is the Security Council, on which the United States has a veto. Thompson next gets philosophical and channels Grotius. Really! Says Thompson, “the UN report remarkably denied the existence of any human right to self-defense, evidently overlooking the work of Hugo Grotius, the 17th century scholar credited as the founder of international law, who wrote, ‘It is to be observed that [the] Right of Self-Defence, arises directly and immediately from the Care of our own Preservation, which Nature recommends to every one…’ and that this right is so primary, that it cannot be denied on the basis that it is not ‘expressly set forth.’
Back in 1945, the framers of the UN Charter were not going to take any chances, so they expressly included the right to self defense. See Article 51 of the UN Charter, which affirms the Grotian view that self-defense is an ‘inherent’ right.
Thompson isn’t so foolish to think that this declaration is just an attempt to secretly rebuke the work of a 17th century Dutchman. Really, there is something more sinister at work, “There is another disturbing aspect to this call for international global gun control. Throughout modern history, the forced disarmament of people by its government has often been accompanied or followed by that government’s commission of often massive human rights abuses. Disarming civilians under the guise of international human rights law will only lead to more…genocides by ensuring that civilians can never defend themselves!
Of course, there is some truth to this logic. Still, most estimates place the number of the victims of the Darfur genocide — which occurred in the context of an armed insurgency, in which the victim population was not, in fact, disarmed — at between 200,000 to 400,000 dead in five years of fighting. This declaration, and those like it at the UN, are attempts to address the proliferation and misuse of small arms, which kill 500,000 people each year. Most of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where the availability of small weapons like the AK-47 is no impediment to violent conflict.
The point of this declaration, and similar UN work, is to impede the transfer of small arms to recoving conflict zones like Liberia or Sierra Leone, thus removing one of the drivers of conflict. It is not intended to violate American’s Second Amendment rights. Even if the UN wanted to–which it doesn’t–it could not amend the Bill of Rights to alter the Second Amendment. Only a two-thirds vote of Congress and the States can do that.