Saint or Sinner: Conflict and Human Rights in US Arms Exports Policy and Practice
Jennifer L. Erickson
Boston College; Cornell University; Dartmouth College
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
Abstract will be provided by author.This paper seeks to explain recent dramatic changes in US policy toward multilateral arms export control standards and explore its arms export practices with regard to conflict, democracy, and human rights over time. In late 2009, the United States surprised many diplomats, activists, and experts by announcing its support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) process, the popular UN initiative that seeks to limit conventional arms transfers to human rights violators and conflict zones. I argue that the Obama administration’s sharp reversal of US opposition serves as a relatively low-cost part of its attempt to improve US image abroad through multilateral re-engagement. In addition, the paper introduces new data on US small and major conventional arms transfer practices from 1981 to 2004. It finds that although the United States may set what many consider the international gold standard for national arms export policy, its export practice – like that of many other arms exporters – is often inattentive to the conflict and human rights records of its arms trade partners. Whether such trends, if continued to the present day, would detract from the United States’ search for renewed status through international cooperation and “responsible” foreign policy may depend as much on its own policies and practice as on those of its peers in the international community.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 2working papers series
Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: September 11, 2011
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