World's Biggest Arms Traders Promise Global Arms Treaty

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amnesty International, Brian Wood, Arms Control Manager, +1 917 226 7209
IANSA, Alastair Mckay, London Press Officer IANSA,  +44 7900 242869 (UK)
IANSA, Mark Marge, UN rep, NY, +1 646 207 6523
Oxfam, Anna MacDonald, Head of control arms Oxfam International, +1 917 972 6769

World's Biggest Arms Traders Promise Global Arms Treaty

NEW YORK - Today at the United Nation years of discussions and debates, the
vast majority of governments – 153 in total - agreed a timetable to
establish a "strong and robust" Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the
"highest common standards" to control international transfers of
conventional arms. There is currently no global Treaty on the
conventional arms trade.

Most of the world's biggest arms traders – including the USA, UK,
France and Germany - will now all back the UN process. Nineteen states
abstained but are all expected to take part in the process. Zimbabwe
was the only State to vote against.

During the debates on the resolution, many countries spoke out and
underlined the need for the treaty to be based on international law,
including international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Control Arms campaign – a coalition of hundreds of
non-governmental organizations in over 100 countries that has promoted
the ATT - welcomed the historic breakthrough at the UN today and called
on all States to negotiate a truly effective Treaty. They warned that
governments must keep up the momentum to ensure the final Treaty has
firm international standards for the global arms trade. Campaigners
expressed reservations about the procedure planned for the UN
Conference that could give every State the right of veto over final
decisions at the UN Conference. They warned a small number of sceptical
States must not be allowed to hijack the ATT process when it is clear
the world wants a strong treaty.

“All countries participate in the conventional arms trade and share
responsibility for the ‘collateral damage’ it produces – widespread
death, injuries and human rights abuses,” said Rebecca Peters, director
of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). “Now finally
governments have agreed to negotiate legally binding global controls on
this deadly trade.”

The agreement in the UN today means that the eventual ATT will be
negotiated in a series of UN meetings concluding at a UN Conference in
2012.

“The Arms Trade Treaty needs a ‘golden rule’ requiring governments
to stop any proposed arms transfer that poses a substantial risk of
being used for serious violations of human rights or war crimes," said
Brian Wood, Amnesty International's head of arms control, “such a
golden rule could save hundreds of thousands of lives and protect the
livelihoods of many millions."

The resolution on the ATT also highlights the issue of international
arms transfers contributing to armed conflict, displacement of people,
organised crime and terrorism, thereby undermining peace, safety,
security and sustainable development.

"For too long, governments have let the flow of weapons get out of
control causing pain, suffering and death in some of the world's
poorest regions. With hundreds of thousands of people dying a year from
armed violence, weapons that fall into the hands of criminals and
rights abusers destroy communities and livelihoods." said Anna
Macdonald of Oxfam International. "Governments must ensure that
negotiations live up to the promise of setting the highest possible
standards - this is a life and death situation for thousands of poor
people worldwide."

* The States that abstained were: Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba,
Egypt, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Venezuela and Yemen.

 

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