As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wraps up her travels across the African continent to showcase President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive to advance the “prosperity, security and dignity of its citizens,” she might have some explaining to do.
No doubt about it, the directive is a great strategy focused on strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade and investment, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development in Africa. It’s the right combination of the right ingredients. However, when the United States recently had the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to these objectives in fragile regions around the world, including Africa, the Obama administration walked away. Instead of standing with other nations against the illicit and irresponsible arms trade that kills 1,500 people a day, it abruptly reversed course.
Negotiations for a global arms trade treaty were 10 years in the making. But during the final hours at the United Nations in New York, the United States, which was getting the final text adjustments it wanted, surprised everyone by suddenly voicing opposition. Russia and China piled on, halting the entire process.
And as a result, thousands of innocent civilians around the globe will continue to die each year from armed violence fueled by the unregulated transfer of arms.
Over the past 10 years, while the steady international fight against unrestrained trade in conventional weapons marched on, millions of people, many of them from sub-Saharan Africa, have died as a result of armed violence. And the costs continue to grow.