At a press conference in Mexico City yesterday, President Obama urged the Senate to take up the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials, which is often referred to by its Spanish acronym, CIFTA.
The Convention aims to curtail the illicit international trade in small arms by requiring member states to establish basic export controls and to cooperate with each other to stop international arms trafficking. These controls include the establishment of effective systems for authorizing international arms transfers, identifying and preventing arms trafficking at border points, exchanging information on illicit trafficking and best practices for combating it, and providing technical assistance to countries attempting to increase their capacity to identify and thwart arms trafficking. As stated in the preamble, “this Convention does not commit States Parties to enact legislation or regulations pertaining to firearms ownership, possession, or trade of a wholly domestic character…”
The US played an important role in drafting the Convention, and was one of the first signatories in November, 1997. The Convention was transmitted to the Senate in June 1998 and, more than a decade later, still awaits the Senate’s advice and consent. To date, 29 of the 34 OAS member states have ratified the Convention. Only the US, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St. Vincent & Grenadines have yet to take that step.