Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Opportunity Knocks

Despite some critical statements in plenary yesterday (notably from India), we are moving slowly but reasonably surely towards the first global treaty to regulate the arms trade. Intensive negotiations behind the scenes were ongoing, notably to mitigate the effect of the French/Indian generalised "get out of my obligations free" clause, as well as to extend the provision on prohibitions to cover war crimes that involve the targeting of civilians or civilian objects in any situation of armed conflict and hopefully, also, indiscriminate attacks. Good work was similarly continuing to strengthen the provision on diversion and to beef up the article governing "export assessment", i.e. where a transfer was not automatically prohibited.
 
It could all still go pear-shaped, but mutter words like "historic" in dark corners and you would not be too far of the mark. Another 39 States are due to speak in plenary today while the other diplomatic activities are all a-flurry and a-fluster. Conference President Woolcott will then present the final draft--probably just about the final text--of the treaty tomorrow morning. Delegations will immediately seek instructions from capital: do we support; do we block; do we protest but not block? Should the treaty be adopted without fatal loopholes, the President and his team will merit all the plaudits they will surely receive.
 
So we will not risk jinxing the possibility of a meaningful agreement with some high-minded clarion call. We will just conclude this short entry by citing Alan H's view of a successful business trip and trust in the wisdom of the majority of the delegations present at this diplomatic conference to do what is right faced with the horrific consequences of unregulated global transfers of weapons...
Seizing this rare opportunity, I call over the air hostess and inform her that I could easily rid them of vast quantities of cumbersome beer and make this flight a lot safer for all concerned, to which she replies "Sorry sir, we don't serve drink until we are airborne." Obviously she mistook my perfectly understandable English for some alien code and I was forced to reduce my instruction to monosyllables, which was surprisingly met with compliance. Having secured some liquid refreshment, I released the hostages and returned to my seat.
 Yes, indeed, opportunity knocks.

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